A new campaign has been launched to clear the name of former Sheffield United striker and convicted rapist Ched Evans.
Former newspaper editor Don Hale, who investigates claims of miscarriages of justice, has examined all the evidence put before jurors when Evans stood trial.
He claims to have identified ‘lost opportunities’ to gather additional evidence which could have shed new light on the case.
Evans, aged 25, was jailed for five years in April 2012 after being convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman at a Welsh hotel.
CCTV cameras captured her leaving a takeaway with another footballer and arriving at a hotel with him before Evans entered their room.
Campaigning journalist Mr Hale – a former Matlock Mercury editor who became well-known for his efforts to clear Stephen Downing, who spent 27 years in jail after being wrongfully convicted of the murder of Wendy Sewell in Bakewell in 1973 – said he believes Evans has a strong case for appeal.
His evidence has been handed to a new legal team in London, which is preparing to submit it to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which will decide whether to refer it to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Hale, who has visited Evans in prison to discuss his case, said: “I was contacted by the family last year and have been working on the case along with a retired detective chief superintendent.
“Vital evidence that could and should have been collected by the police was missed.
“A vital new witness has also come forward who could turn the case on its head.
“I am staggered at the number of key items which were never presented to the court.”
He said Evans is due to be released from prison in October, after serving half of his prison sentence, but he suspects any possible future appeal hearing will be after that date.
Mr Hale said: “There is a long road ahead to justice, but at least Ched now has someone to put the facts together that should have been presented at his trial.
A statement from Liberton Investigations, posted on a website run by Ched’s supporters, said: “Although available prior to the original trial, we are still discovering relevant material which was incredibly never fully explored at the time and hence did not feature during the trial.
“Had all these matters been placed in front of the jury, it is our professional opinion that the outcome may have been materially different. Everything collected and examined so far has been given to the new defence team.”