‘Insufficient evidence’ to prosecute Ched Evans website for identifying rape victim, CPS rules

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A website campaigning to overturn former Sheffield United striker Ched Evans’ rape conviction has been cleared of potentially identifying the victim in the case.

The Crown Prosecution Service investigated whether pixelated video images of the victim going into the hotel where the rape was committed that are featured on the site may have led to her being identified.

The probe took place at the request of Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC.

The CPS has now ruled there is ‘insufficient evidence’ for criminal charges to be brought.

Ed Beltrami, the Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Wales, said: “This case concerned the publishing of CCTV on the website Chedevans.com and allegation that it could lead to the identification of a rape victim.

“Each case is considered on its own facts and merits. In order to undertake a prosecution, the law would require us to prove that it was ‘likely’ that a member of the public could identify the victim from the CCTV footage posted on the website.

“As the footage had been pixelated, and there was otherwise nothing sufficiently distinctive in the footage, it was deemed unlikely that a member of the public could identify the victim and for that reason it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to charge.

“Jigsaw identification was also considered; namely whether or not this CCTV, in conjunction with information about the victim that was already in the public domain, could lead to identification. It was decided that a member of the public would still be unlikely to identify the victim were they aware of both the CCTV and other information.

“Any decision by the CPS does not imply any finding concerning guilt or criminal conduct; the CPS makes decisions only according to the test set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors and it is applied in all decisions on whether or not to prosecute.”

Karl Massey, the father of Evans’ girlfriend Natasha and a supporter of the Evans’ campaign, said he was pleased at the CPS decision.

He said: “Today’s announcement from the Crown Prosecution Service is welcomed by Ched’s family and supporters who have worked hard to ensure the facts surrounding Ched’s wrongful conviction have been available for the public to view.

“It has never been our intention to do anything that might identify the complainant, nor have we ever supported anyone who has attempted to do so. We are glad that the CPS and Attorney General have today acknowledged that our website did not do so.

“We will continue to update our website with new and relevant facts for as long as is appropriate and we remain grateful to the many people who have read and commented on the content and have become supporters of Ched’s campaign.”

It comes after Evans’ legal team made further written submissions to the Criminal Cases Review Commission and also provided two new witness statements.

His legal team hope the CCRC will refer his case to the Court of Appeal where judges would decide if his conviction could be overturned.

Evans was convicted of rape in April 2012. He is currently out on licence having been released from prison in October.

He has made several attempts to restart his football career, including at Sheffield United, but each attempted move has resulted in a public outcry and clubs deciding against signing him.