Nigel Evans MP, Tory MP and deputy speaker of the House of Commons has been arrested on a charge of suspicion of rape. Whilst arrest is clearly not an indication of guilt, with charges of such severity against a public figure, the case has attracted an enormous amount of coverage and has become a talking point the length and breadth of the country.
I was quite intrigued to see a quote in the Daily Mail from Barnet Councillor Robert Rams who said “I hope and pray the allegations are not true. He is a friend and a really lovely guy.”
Clearly Robert Rams as a friend is entitled and perhaps should be commended for supporting his beleagured friend. I am sure many of us will have on occasion heard allegations against friends which we found truly unbelievable. It is not completely unknown for people to make false and malicious allegations, especially against public figures. It is reported elsewhere that Evans stated that he thought the people making the allegations were friends.
On the other hand, what worries me is the fact that this week in Barnet we saw the conviction of Brian Coleman, for a vicious assault on cafe owner Helen Michael. After Colemans arrest, I spoke to dozens of people who had been told by various Tory councillors close to Brian Coleman that Coleman was innocent and Ms Michael had "set him up". They had denied that the assault amounted to anything more than a casual attempt to prevent a picture being taken and Coleman even suggested that Helen Michael may have inflicted the injuries on herself. In short his friends closed ranks and launched a full scale campaign to discredit Helen Michael. Happily for Helen, when the CCTV footage of the assault was filmed and people saw the huge savageness of Colemans attack, a lot of Barnet Tories were left with huge amounts of egg on their face. Not a single one has apologised to Ms Michael for having doubted her word. Not a single one has even admitted that Coleman duped them.
No one would suggest that Councillor Rams shouldn't support his good friend. One does however hope that he's learned something from the Brian Coleman case and before he makes his mind up totally, he should make sure he knows both sides of the story and gives the alleged victims a degree of respect in anything further he says on the matter.