Ched Evans says he is 'determined to fight' to clear his name to return to football after rape conviction

The convicted rapist said "it is my hope that I’ll be able to return to football", in a video statement published today

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Ched Evans, the footballer who was convicted of rape in 2012, has released a video statement saying that he was not guilty of “that” and is going to fight to clear his name.

In a self-published YouTube video, Evans, in a shirt and tie and sitting beside his girlfriend Natasha Massey, breaks his silence following his release from jail.

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He spent two-and-a-half years behind bars as part of his five-year sentence for raping an inebriated girl in a hotel room in May 2011. He has now submitted an appeal to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

“By cheating on my partner Natasha I hurt the woman I love with all my heart” Evans says to camera, in a video appeal he said last week that he would release.

“Since that night I have constantly regretted my act of infidelity and the damage that has been done on so many fronts because of it.”

He said that he is grateful for the support he has received from his friends and family, which has kept him strong: “It can’t have been an easy thing to have stood by someone who the court found guilty of such a destructive act”.

“I am determined to continue the fight to clear my name” and he again claims that the sex was consensual.

 

“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’ll be able to return to football.”

He then added that if this is possible, he would do so with “humility having learned a very painful lesson.

“I would like a second chance, but I know not everyone would agree. I don’t believe I have a given right to play again, but for any club to take me on I have learned a valuable lesson - I know that. Over time I can prove myself to be a positive influence, not just on the pitch but in the community.”

It was thought that Evans had broken his silence in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Mirror last week, however Evans' family released a statement saying that the quotes used in the interview had actually been obtained in March 2013.

The debate on whether Evans should be allowed to return to professional football has many proponents on both sides of the argument.

Veteran journalist Michael Buerk came under fire today for saying that nobody had come out of the Ched Evans rape case “with any credit” including the victim who had “drunk so much she could barely stand”.

Buerk made the comments on BBC Radio 4, which the broadcaster apologised for saying there was “no intention to suggest that the victim was in any way at fault”. Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis, condemned the comments, saying: “It is difficult to stress just how inappropriate and potentially damaging this morning's live trail from the presenter for his programme was.”