2 hours ago
- From the section Wales
Details of the sexual past of a woman who accused Ched Evans of rape should not have been heard in court, a former solicitor general has said.
The 27-year-old footballer was cleared on Friday of raping the 19-year-old woman in a hotel room.
Vera Baird QC told the BBC that the case had set things back “about 30 years”.
Mr Evans was found guilty of rape in 2012, but that conviction was quashed in April.
The Chesterfield striker was accused of attacking the woman at a Premier Inn in Rhuddlan, Denbighshire, on 30 May 2011.
The original conviction was referred to the Court of Appeal following a 10-month investigation by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which found new information not raised at the original trial.
The evidence concerned two other men who claimed they had sex with the woman around the same time of the alleged offence and who described their encounters with her in highly specific terms that were similar to Mr Evans’s own account of what had happened.
Northumbria police and crime commissioner Ms Baird told the BBC’s Today programme she viewed this new information as “irrelevant”.
“How, in this case, it was ever allowed for evidence that this woman had allegedly had sex with other men, when the questions in the trial were was she so drunk that she lost the capacity to consent and did he reasonably believe that she was not that drunk and in fact she was consenting?”
Since 1999, defence lawyers have been banned from cross-examining alleged rape victims in court about their sexual behaviour or history but the Court of Appeal said Mr Evans’ case was exceptional.
Lady Justice Hallett ruled that the events were so similar to what Mr Evans had described that a jury had to hear about them before deciding whether the woman had been incapable of giving her consent.
Ms Baird, who was instrumental in bringing about the change in law, added: “The only difference between a clear conviction of Mr Evans in 2012 and the absolute refusal of him having any leave to appeal at that time, and his acquittal now, is that he has called some men to throw discredit on [the woman’s] sexual reputation.
“That, I think, is pouring prejudice in, which is exactly what used to happen before the law in 1999 stopped the admission of previous sexual history in order to show consent.
“We’ve gone back, I’m afraid, probably about 30 years.”
Criminal barrister John Cooper QC insisted the new information allowed by the Court of Appeal had been relevant to the case.
Ms Baird’s comments did the jury a disservice, he added.
“We are dealing with juries in the 21st Century, men and women who understand ways of life and understand that allegations of rape like this need to be properly tested.
“We don’t have and shouldn’t have attitudes going back 30 or 40 years. These are modern juries, applying modern, proper standards we all uphold.”