I never thought I’d find myself writing in support of a convicted rapist but the footballer Ched Evans is at the centre of a witch-hunt egged on by vote seeking and spineless politicians which makes me feel rather ashamed to be British.
The transcript of the trial makes it clear that Mr Evans is a prize sleazebag. He insists that when he climbed into bed with his pal and a bird the pal had pulled, that the oral sex he offered to pleasure her with was at her invitation and that she consented to full sex thereafter. The next morning the victim bragged by text that she had bagged “a big one”. The next evening she reported Mr Evans and his pal for rape. The pal (who went first) got off, Evans served 30 months.
There is a very legitimate debate about the leniency of sentence. I would regard two and a half years for rape as shockingly light. However based on the court transcripts I am not convinced that I would have been able as a juror to have found Mr Evans guilty beyond all reasonable doubt of rape. Yes he is a sleazebag but a rapist? I am not so sure.
But he was convicted. He served his time and now he is out. Yet it seem as if the media and political establishment is determined that he never ply his trade again. He is not allowed to play abroad because he is on the Sex Offender’s register and when a UK club tries to sign him it faces such a barrage of hostility that it walks away. Nick Clegg was first to jump on this populist bandwagon.
David Cameron spouted some rubbish about how he could not take his son to watch a match in which Ched was playing. What utter nonsense. Posh Dave is a faux footie fan. A few weeks standing outside the posh seats at any club and he’d know from the chants that very few soccer players can be held up as role models. “Andy Carroll’s ‘avin a party, time to get the vodka and Charlie” sing the West Ham fans. When Alan Pardew comes back to the Academy its “Alan Pardew, he shags who he wants.” For Robin van Persie the chant always used to be “she said no!” even though he was cleared of raping the ex-stripper with whom he checked into a hotel room with for one night only. We all know what the chants refer to. And if you read the tabloids you know all sorts of filth about a legion of soccer stars up and down the land.
Looking at the current West Ham squad, my guess is that Mark Noble is a role model in every respect. I really would not want to bet on any of the other players not having made it into the tabloids at some stage. The fact is that most top flight footballers with more money than sense and birds chucking themselves at them find it hard to resist temptation and are so not the sort of paragons of virtue that Call Me Dave reckons he wants his son to see kicking a ball about.
Call Me Dave and Clegg are grubbing for votes, chanting a populist mantra. There is an election coming. They are grubby men.
Ched Evans has served his – shockingly light - sentence. He should be allowed, as should all ex-cons, to rehabilitate himself as part of society playing his trade. For that is how a just and caring society treats ex-offenders. We want ex-cons to become part of a civilised society again not to lurk on the margins bitter, resentful and more likely to re-offend. Just because Ched is a soccer player not a brickie or a roofer or an accountant with KPMG, he deserves the same treatment as all the other released felons out there.
Any club that shows the backbone to stand up to this witch-hunt deserves real credit. Heck even if it is Millwall I shall show my support by buying a season ticket for the remainder of this campaign. I won’t actually go to any games, I never want to meet Mr Evans for he sounds like an unpleasant, boorish oaf but the persecution he faces is not that which a civilised society should hand out.