UK

Ched Evans Releases Video Claiming He Will 'Continue Fight' To Clear His Rape Conviction

22/10/2014 18:23 BST | Updated 22/10/2014 18:59 BST

Ched Evans, who was convicted of raping a woman in a hotel room, has said he is "determined to continue the fight" to clear his name and return to playing.

In a video interview posted on his website following his release from prison last Friday, having served half of a five-year jail term, the former Sheffield United striker said his lawyers had already taken steps to overturn the conviction.

He said the sex was consensual, adding that he made "an incredibly foolish decision" to cheat on partner Natasha Massey, who appears with Evans in the video message.

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Ched Evans with his partner Natasha Massey

Wearing a dark shirt and tie, the 25-year-old Welshman said: "It is a rare and extraordinary privilege to be permitted to play professional football.

"Now that I have served the custodial part of my sentence of two and a half years, it is my hope that I will be able to return to football.

"If that is possible then I will do so with humility, having learnt a very painful lesson.

"I would like a second chance."

The release of the two-minute video comes on the day the BBC was forced to apologise after BBC presenter and veteran journalist Michael Buerk appeared to criticise Evans' victim for being drunk.

In a trailer for Radio 4 discussion show Moral Maze on the rehabilitation of criminals, Buerk said neither footballer Evans nor the woman he attacked emerged "with any credit" because she was so intoxicated "she could barely stand".

His comments have incensed victims' right campaigners who described the trailer as "damaging" and "deeply offensive".

A Radio 4 spokesman said: "There was no intention to suggest that the victim was in any way at fault, and we apologise if the way this live trail was phrased suggested this.

"Tonight's Moral Maze will ask whether a convicted rapist who maintains his innocence should be entitled to get his job back."

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The BBC said the programme will be broadcast at 8pm as planned. The discussion will focus on "whether the need for forgiveness and rehabilitation trump the need for continuing disgrace and the need to make an example of someone who for many should be a role model", it said.

In his trail for Moral Maze, Buerk said: "Nobody comes out of the Ched Evans rape case with any credit - not the victim who'd drunk so much she could barely stand, nor the two footballers who had sex with her in the most sordid of circumstances."

Katie Russell, for Rape Crisis England and Wales, described Buerk's comments as "dreadful".

She said: "While Michael Buerk and the Moral Maze are both known for being provocative, it is difficult to stress just how inappropriate and potentially damaging this morning's live trail from the presenter for his programme was.

"To infer that being drunk is in any way 'morally' comparable to committing the serious and violent crime of rape is deeply offensive and will undoubtedly have caused considerable distress to the huge numbers of survivors of sexual violence who will inevitably have been listening.

"Let us not forget that there is a rape survivor at the heart of this story, who is currently living with the devastating and potentially lifelong impact not only of having been sexually violated but of the terrible abuse she has subsequently suffered in the public domain.

"It is partly because of the kind of shaming, victim-blaming attitudes voiced by Michael Buerk this morning that currently only 15% of all those who are raped choose to report to the police."