The Attorney General has ordered an investigation into whether a website set up to support shamed footballer Ched Evans has identified his rape victim.
The woman he raped in a hotel in Rhyl has been forced to move home five times after being hounded by internet trolls and, according to her father, has been driven to live “on the run”.
Jeremy Wright, the Attorney General, has ordered the Crown Prosecution Service to investigate whether the website is in contempt of court.
Evans, the former Sheffield United striker, was released halfway through a five-year prison term for raping the woman, who was 19 at the time of the offence in 2012, and still denies he is guilty.
A website was set up to protest his innocence and maintains that “information gathered since his conviction will in time overturn a wrongful conviction”.
The Attoney General yesterday ordered the investigation into the website following a complaint last month by the victim’s father about some of the content.
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Among the content to be assessed for potential contempt of court is the use of CCTV footage showing the woman with just her face concealed through pixilation.
A statement from the Attorney General’s office said: “Jeremy Wright has asked the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether any criminal offences may have been committed in regards to identifying the victim in the Ched Evans case. He has also asked the North Wales police to investigate whether some of the material served during the course of the proceedings has been dealt with properly. If not, this may constitute a contempt of court.”
Victims of rape and other sex offences have the right to lifelong anonymity and people who identify them can face criminal charges.
Nine people have already been charged and convicted of publishing material on social media that, contrary to the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992, identified the rape victim. Some of them had also abused the victim online, referring to her with terms such as “money-grabbing slut”.
A public outcry has twice prevented Evans from resuming his career as a professional footballer. Sheffield United and more recently Oldham Athletic dropped plans to sign him when executives realised the public disgust at him being able to play again and presumably enjoy the adulation of crowds.
However, there has also been concern that having served his sentence he should be free to work again.
Evans’ most recent attempt to appeal his conviction was rejected by the Court of Appeal, but his case is being considered by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The footballer issued his first apology to the victim last week, though he maintained he was innocent of rape, and condemned attempts to hound her through social media.
In his statement issued last week, Evans said: “I wish to make it clear that I wholeheartedly apologise for the effects that night in Rhyl has had on many people, not least the woman concerned.”Reuse content