Minister says law could be changed in wake of Ched Evans rape retrial

Posted On: 
27th October 2016

The retrial of footballer Ched Evans for a charge of rape could prompt a change in the law on evidence used in court, a minister has suggested.

Footballer Ched Evans was aquitted of rape earlier this month
Credit: 
PA Images

Attorney General Jeremy Wright said the Government should consider whether a law change “is appropriate” or if guidelines for judges could be amended.

During the case the court heard details of the sexual history of his accuser as evidence - prompting outrage from womens’ rights campaigners and fears it could put off future assault reports.

Female MPs demand law change following Ched Evans verdict

But during Attorney General’s questions in the House of Commons today, Mr Wright said any concern must be accepted as “sensible” and dealt with accordingly.

“I think what we need to look at is a number of things,” he added.

“We need to understand more about the decision in this particular case, we need to understand whether a change in the law is appropriate and, if not, whether it is sensible to look at the guidance that is given to judges about when this evidence is admissible and the guidance that judges give to juries about how that evidence should be used.

“I think we need to do all of those things before we are in a position to understand what, if any, changes are needed.”

In an article for the Guardian this week Labour MP Jess Phillips said Mr Evan’s case “fills me with dread”.

She added: “What is to stop any defendant in the future simply going on Facebook and crowd-sourcing information from a victim’s previous partners and using it against her in court?”

“We want assurances that the Evans case will not act to make it even harder for victims to come forward.

“We want to know what the government is going to do to ensure this.”