Friday 15 November 2019

Probe into naming of Ched Evans victim

Ched Evans
Ched Evans

Emma Clark

Prosecutors have been ordered to investigate whether a website set up in support of rapist Ched Evans has unlawfully identified his victim.

The father of the victim - who has already been forced to change her identity five times - contacted the Attorney General's Office in December to complain about the website.

Footballer Evans was released from prison last year after serving half of his five year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl in April 2012 and remains on licence.

The website was set up as part of Evans' bid to clear his name and features CCTV footage of the victim whose face is pixilated entering the hotel ahead of the attack. The footage was shown to the jury during the court case.

A statement from the Attorney General's office today said: "The Attorney General, Jeremy Wright QC MP, has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether any criminal offences may have been committed in regards to identifying the victim in the Ched Evans case.

"He has also asked the North Wales police to investigate whether some of the material served during the course of the proceedings has been dealt with properly.

"If not, this may constitute a contempt of court.

"Given that there is now the possibility of proceedings being brought, it is very important that there is no comment in the media which might jeopardise either the investigation or any subsequent proceedings."

Since Evans' conviction, his victim, who has a legal right to anonymity for life, has moved home five times as online trolls repeatedly tracked her down and revealed her new identity.

She was first given a new identity in 2012 when her name was circulated on social media at the end of the court case.

Nine people were later each ordered by court to pay the victim £624 in one of the first cases of its kind.

A number of football clubs were confronted with public outcry after showing interest in the former Wales and Sheffield United player as he attempted to restart his career.

After a deal with Oldham Athletic collapsed earlier this month following a public petition, he released a statement condemning the online abuse of his victim.

The 26-year-old, who is still on licence, said: "Whilst I continue to maintain my innocence, I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned.

"Finally, it has been claimed that those using social media in an abusive and vindictive way towards this woman are supporters of mine. I wish to make it clear that these people are not my supporters and I condemn their actions entirely and will continue to do so."

Evans's supporters have mounted a vigorous campaign to overturn his conviction, including setting up a website detailing what they say are the flaws in the case against him.

The appeal against Evans's conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012 and the case is currently being considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

PA Media

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