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Club patrons walk out over return of rapist footballer

Sixties pop star Dave Berry has become the latest patron of Sheffield United to resign after the club allowed former player and convicted rapist Ched Evans to return for training.

Campaigners against sexual violence have criticised the Blades for allowing the 25-year-old footballer to regain his fitness following his release from prison after serving half of a five-year term.

Berry (73) said: "I find it quite appalling how Sheffield United have responded and handled this. We have had no response from him at all in any apologies or thoughts for the woman or her family.

"It's as though he's rejected it all as if it didn't happen."

The singer was a patron of the Sheffield United Community Foundation.

Earlier, TV presenter Charlie Webster announced that she was also resigning as patron over the same issue, while it was reported that Sheffield businesswoman Lindsay Graham had made the same decision.

On Tuesday the League One club released a statement saying they had not yet decided whether to re-sign Evans, but that they had agreed to a request from the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) to let him train.

Berry said: "This begs the question: Are there any women on the board at Sheffield United? How do the women feel who are part of the sponsors? Has anyone asked for their opinions?

"I think common sense should have said, 'OK, we'll consider this in a year's time and see if he's changed his attitude and got advice and does a proper apology'.

"I do think there are certain standards you can have."

Meanwhile, club sponsors DBL Logistics and John Holland Sales Ltd have threatened to end deals with Sheffield United.

"DBL Logistics would end its back-of-shirt sponsorship with Sheffield United if the club employed a convicted rapist," the company said in a statement.

Holland Sales said it would "re-evaluate" its position if Evans was re-employed.

Evans was jailed in April 2012 for raping a woman in a hotel room in Rhyl, North Wales. The Welsh striker denied rape, saying the sex was consensual, but he was found guilty by a jury.

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