By Hugo Varley
The Court of Appeal is set to review the decision to convict Ched Evans of rape.
In 2012, the Welshman was jailed for five years after being found guilty of raping a 19 year-old woman, however he has always maintained his innocence.
Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) chairman Richard Foster said: ‘The decision of the Commission is not a judgment on guilt or innocence in relation to Ched Evans, nor is it a judgment about the honesty or integrity of the victim or any other person involved in the case.
‘Our role is to consider applications to see if, in our judgment, there is any basis on which to ask the court to hear a fresh appeal – that is our statutory responsibility.
‘In this case we have identified new material which was not considered by the jury at trial and which in our view might have assisted the defence.
‘In those circumstances, it is right and proper for the matter to be before the Court so that they can decide whether or not the new information should affect the verdict in this case.’
A statement on Ched Evans’ official website today read: “The decision to refer Ched’s case is welcomed by all who know the true facts and Ched would like to thank all those who have supported him since his conviction in April 2012 and his subsequent release from prison in October 2014.
“In particular the support he received from football fans from many clubs kept his spirits high in the most difficult of circumstances but in particular the support from the many Sheffield Utd fans who stayed in contact with him.”
The 26 year-old former Sheffield United striker was released from prison last year, having served half of his sentence. He has so far failed in his quest to find a new team, with many club’s afraid of the bad publicity that signing the striker could bring.