Law to be reviewed amid fears Ched Evans case could take Britain back 'about 30 years'

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A law relied upon in the acquittal of Ched Evans is to be reviewed by the Government amid concerns it could deter women from reporting attacks, a minister has announced.

The Welsh footballer was cleared of raping a 19-year-old woman at a retrial after a five-year battle to clear his name. In a rare move, two men who had sex with the complainant at a similar time to the allegation gave evidence to the jury at Cardiff Crown Court, helping Evans's case.

Ched Evans and partner and solicitor
Evans's guilty conviction was reversed in October (Ben Birchall/PA)

The case triggered fears that women would be discouraged from reporting sexual assaults and Vera Baird, a former solicitor-general, said the case would take Britain back "about 30 years".

Home Office minister Baroness Williams of Trafford told a debate that a review would be launched after hearing fears over the admissibility of a victim's sexual history.

"We accept that the concern should be looked at and we intend to deal with it," said Williams. "We have committed to looking at how the law is working in practice and will do so as expeditiously as possible, to understand whether any further action needs to be taken."

Model playing a rape victim in a medical room in Kent
Evans's case raises fears rape will go unreported (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The announcement was made while the House of Lords was debating the Policing and Crime Bill. Lord Marks of Henley-on-Thames, the Liberal Democrats' justice spokesman, urged a change in Section 41 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

"The appeal in the Ched Evans case has raised fears that complainants will be deterred from reporting rape because they might be cross-examined about their sexual history," said Marks. "Those fears are real and if they are justified that would suggest that a change to Section 41 is necessary."

Ched Evans playing for Chesterfield
Evans is playing football again, now in England's third tier (Nick Potts/PA)

Evans, 27, spent two-and-a-half years in prison after being convicted of raping a woman who prosecutors said was too intoxicated by alcohol to have consented. The footballer, now with Chesterfield, had his conviction overturned in the Court of Appeal in March and it was ordered that two of her former lovers could give evidence in his defence.

Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC previously expressed his "concern" on the subject and suggested the law and guidance around the admission of a complainant's sexual history could be reformed.