Ched Evans has won an appeal against his conviction for raping a 19-year-old woman - but will now face a fresh trial.
The former Sheffield United striker was told this morning at the Court of Appeal that his attempt to get his conviction for rape overturned had been successful.
But a retrial has been ordered by senior judges.
Evans was present in the packed London courtroom with girlfriend Natasha Massey by his side to hear the result of his conviction challenge.
Lady Justice Hallett, Mr Justice Flaux and Sir David Maddison heard submissions over two days from Kieran Vaughan QC, for Evans, and from Eleanor Laws QC, for the Crown last month.
At the conclusion of the proceedings they reserved their judgment.
Evans, now 27, was convicted in April 2012. He was found guilty at Caernarfon Crown Court of raping the woman at a hotel in Rhyl, North Wales.
His conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal for review by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.
Lady Justice Hallett, announcing the court’s decision, said the judges had heard “fresh evidence” during the appeal hearing on March 22 and 23.
She said: “In summary, we have concluded that we must allow the appeal and that it is in the interests of justice to order a retrial.”
No details about the nature of the fresh evidence that resulted in the conviction being quashed can be report until the conclusion of the retrial.
The court quashed Evans’s conviction and declared: “The appellant will be retried on the allegation of rape.”
Evans will be back in court within two months to face a new indictment on the charge of rape.
The venue of the retrial and the date it will take place is yet to be decided, but will be determined by Nicola Davies, who is the senior presiding judge for the Wales circuit.
Evans has released a statement on his campaign website following today’s decision.
It said: “Ched Evans is extremely grateful that the Court of Appeal has ruled that his conviction for rape was unsafe and should be quashed.
“He wants to thank his lawyers, Kieran Vaughan QC and David Emanuel of Garden Court Chambers, London and Shaun Draycott of Draycott Browne Solicitors, Manchester, for their hard work and commitment in relation to the CCRC application and the appeal, as well as his partner Natasha, their families and friends and all those members of the public who have offered him support throughout.
“No further statement will be made as it is acknowledged by Mr Evans that the legal process has not reached a final conclusion and there will be further hearings of significance on dates to be fixed in due course.”
After the ruling Evans left the Royal Courts of Justice hand in hand with his girlfriend to catch a taxi.
Earlier, Lady Justice Hallett read out a statement containing the court’s conclusions, which she said could be reported and broadcast “in full”.
She said: “On 20 April 2012, a jury at the Caernarfon Crown Court convicted the appellant of an offence of rape. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment and he has since been released on licence.
“He appealed to this court against conviction on a reference by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (the CCRC) ... on the basis that relevant and admissible evidence has come to light, that was not available at trial, and that undermines the safety of his conviction.”
The judge then announced that the appeal was being allowed and a retrial ordered.
She emphasised that “nothing can be reported that might prejudice the fairness” of the retrial.
The judge further stated: “The identity of the complainant in this case must not be reported.”
Lady Justice Hallett added: “The appellant will be on unconditional bail as far as this court is concerned.”