Just about anyone who works in Westminster and has ever had any dealings with deputy speaker Nigel Evans has been stunned and saddened by the sex abuse and rape charges which have led to him resigning his Commons post.

So it was to a packed and silent Commons chamber that Evans announced his decision to stand down, declaring he would continue as MP for Ribble Valley and robustly defend himself against the charges.

He said other MPs and colleagues had been supportive, adding: "When I told the member for Bristol South [Dawn Primorolo, also a Deputy Speaker] of my decision, I even got a hug from her.

"I have had so many hugs, prayers and good wishes... and I would like to thank everyone who has shown me such compassionate consideration.

"I was told I will soon see who my real friends are and that has been true, but the truth is there have been so many of them. So thank you my dearest loyal friends."

He said party political divisions had disappeared during the period since the allegations were first made, adding: "Winston Churchill said when you are going through hell, keep going. Sage advice and so I will see this through to the end, with the support of people who mean so much to me."

Speaker John Bercow replied to the statement by saying Evans had been an "exemplary" deputy who had always done his job fairly and with good humour and had been a "loyal and highly valued member of the team."

Ever since the allegations were first levelled at Evans and he was originally arrested in May, the 55-year-old has insisted on his innocence and, at first, said he would carry on as deputy speaker.

But the fact he has now been charged with two counts of indecent assault, five of sexual assault and one of rape against seven males made his position untenable and he had little option but to quit. The offences are said to have occurred between 2002 and 2013.

He is now expected to appear before Preston Magistrates' Court on 18 September.