UK

Ched Evans: Charlie Webster resigns as Sheffield United patron

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Media captionCharlie Webster announced her decision to step down on the BBC's Newsnight

Television presenter Charlie Webster has resigned as a patron of Sheffield United after the club allowed convicted rapist Ched Evans to train.

The club said it had granted former player Evans permission to train with the side following a request from the Professional Footballers' Association.

Evans, 25, was freed last month after serving two-and-a-half years for rape.

Ms Webster told BBC's Newsnight that "at no point" had the club acknowledged the "extremity of his crime".

The Wales international footballer was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl.

'Next generation'

Her resignation comes after Sheffield United released a statement on Tuesday saying Evans would be allowed to train with the club. It said the club had not yet decided whether to re-sign him.

Ms Webster told Newsnight that "nobody" was making a decision about Evans, adding: "I suppose I feel I need to make a decision as patron of Sheffield United.

"My decision is made on the fact that I don't believe a convicted rapist, as in Ched Evans, should go back to a club that I am patron of and should go back into the community to represent the community.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Ched Evans played for Sheffield United before he was jailed in April 2012

"He's not just going into a job, he's bandied as a role model, we cheer him on as a role model and he's influencing the next generation of young men who are currently still making their decisions on how to treat women and what sexual mutual consent is."

Ms Webster - who in an interview earlier this year revealed she had been sexually assaulted as a teenager - said she had had a "positive" conversation with the chairman of the Sheffield United before resigning.

It comes after campaign groups criticised the decision to allow Evans to resume training with his former club.

Almost 157,000 people have signed a petition urging Sheffield United not to take the player back after the club chose not to renew his contract following his conviction.

However, Sheffield United said there could be no place for "mob justice" in making a decision over his future.

The club said it had considered the views of staff, the Football League and the PFA, as well as the club's supporters and the general public.

An appeal against Evans's conviction was rejected by three judges at the Court of Appeal in 2012. His case is due to be looked at by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The Welsh striker maintains his innocence, saying the sex was consensual.

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