Footballer Ched Evans is set to have his rape conviction heard by the Court of Appeal after it was referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). The former Sheffield United star served two and a half years of a five-year sentence after been found guilty of raping a woman at a hotel near Rhyl, north Wales, in May 2011.
Following his release, the former Wales international has maintained his innocence and issued a statement via YouTube in which he vowed to clear his name.
He applied to the CCRC in July 2014 and now, following a 10-month investigation, his case has been referred to the Court of Appeal on the basis of "new information which was not raised at trial", which could have added support to Evans' defence.
The CCRC said the new evidence "raises a real possibility" that the Court of Appeal may now quash Evans' rape conviction. Richard Foster, chair of CCRC, said: "The decision of the Commission is not a judgement on guilt or innocence in relation to Ched Evans, nor is it a judgement 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 judgement, 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 that 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."
The CCRC said they are "particularly mindful of the targeted abuse" suffered by the victim in this case. A spokesperson added: "Since this application arrived in July 2014, we have been careful to keep her informed about stages of the Commission's review so that, as far as it has been in our power to do so, she has learned about developments in the case from us rather than from any other source.
"As is usual whenever the Commission refers a case for appeal, we ensured that she was informed of the decision through a trusted source before the referral was made."