Evans is ’shocked and dismayed’

One of the grandees of the UK venture capital scene has given his reaction to his arrest and implication in the cash-for-honours inquiry plaguing some high-profile lenders to the UK Labour Party.

Professor Sir Christopher Evans, founder of venture capital firm Merlin Biosciences, has said in a statement that he was “extremely shocked and dismayed” following his arrest in connection with the police inquiry into loans to the Labour Party.
According to media reports officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Specialist Crime Directorate questioned Evans at a police station outside London.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “A man was arrested by police officers in connection with alleged offences under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.”

He was bailed to return at a future date, pending further inquiries. However, Evans said: “There was nothing raised in the interview that caused me or my solicitor any concern or to think that I have done something wrong. I have done nothing wrong and have absolutely nothing to hide.”

Evans said he voluntarily attended the police interview and has always been happy to provide the police with any information they have requested.

But he was disappointed that the technicality of arrest was used in this situation. He said his solicitors felt it was unnecessary given his offer of co-operation.
Evans said he had never made a secret of the loan and if he had been asked at any time whether he had made a loan he would have confirmed the fact.

He had loaned the money because he was not prepared to make such a substantial donation to the Labour Party, he said, adding that if he had known this would be the outcome he would not have lent the money.

Evans founded Merlin in 1996 as an advisory firm that specialised in equity investments in European life science companies. Today, Merlin advises three investment partnerships with total capital in excess of €450 million. The firm has made 35 equity investments.

Evans is the second venture capitalist to face police investigations recently. Peter Dicks, chairman of Private Equity Investor, a UK-quoted technology fund of venture funds, was arrested in the US and released on bail earlier this month for his involvement in the online gaming company Sportingbet, where he was non-executive chairman.

Dicks has over 30 years of experience in the private equity sector and co-founded Abingworth, one of the UK’s first venture capital companies, in 1973 where he stayed until 1991.