Former Sheffield United and Wales footballer Ched Evans has had his rape conviction referred to the Court of Appeal.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the conviction after fresh evidence was lodged by his lawyers.
The 26-year-old was released from prison last year after serving half of his five year sentence for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl in April 2012.
Evans has always maintained his innocence but his attempts to restart his career with Oldham Athletic and his former club collapsed in the face of a public outcry.
An earlier appeal against Evans's conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012.
According to a CCRC online press release:
Following an in depth, ten-month long investigation, the Commission has decided to refer the case to the Court of Appeal. The referral is made on the basis of new information which was not raised at trial, and which in the view of the Commission, could have added support to Mr Evans’s defence at trial and therefore raises a real possibility that the Court of Appeal may now quash the conviction. It will now be for the Court to hear a fresh appeal to decide the case.
Richard Foster, Chair of the 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 which 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 possible outcomes are that the court may:
- Quash (overturn) the conviction
- Quash the conviction and order a retrial
- Uphold the conviction (dismiss the appeal)