His true crimes were of a different dimension but when Stuart Hall's past caught up with him he stole something from those of us who loved his work.


As a sports broadcaster the man was unique. Erudite, jovial and witty his match reports were a highlight of journeys home from sports events on a Saturday evening, laced with topical and cultural references which he always made brilliantly relevant, while weaving just enough information about the match he was covering into the narrative.

When he was convicted of sex offences, however, his employers at the BBC knew he could never again be put in front of the public as he had been.

His job is not like that of a health worker, teacher or police officer that would make it impossible for him to perform such a role because of his crime. It is a matter of taste.

For one who, as a youngster, also enjoyed his hysterical - in the true sense - presentations of "It's A Knockout/Jeux Sans Frontiers" - in the seventies, it is sad that the memory of enjoying his work is now so horribly tainted and in that regard I felt considerable empathy with Adam Hills, host of Challen 4's "The Last Leg" last weekend, when he announced his nomination of fellow Australian Rolf Harris for their "Dick of the Year" poll.

Initially that was meant to be a bit of fun and while there was obviously a dark side to his diatribe given the nature of Harris's conviction, again for sex offences, Hills lightened matters up a little by explaining that the nomination was, in this case, for what it had taken from him personally.

Hills, who has an artificial foot, explained how he had, as a youngster, used his spare prosthetic to turn Harris's hit song "Jake the Peg" into something of a party piece but, before coming up with a decent parody at the end of the show, made the point that it could no longer be performed, such was its association with its composer.

Is it conceivable that Harris will, in future, be allowed to present family-friendly television programmes like "Animal Hospital" or ask her majesty to pose for pictures?

The question is, of course, rhetorical.

So to the on-going discussion over convicted rapist Ched Evans and those, including the Oldham Athletic board, who believe he is entitled to a second chance to sporting stardom now that he has served a sentence for a crime he still claims he did not commit.

The scale of the protests that have surrounded both his negotiations with Sheffield United and Oldham Athletic about a return to the English professional game have been unprecedented and rightly so.

Having met many down the years for whom the description is nothing short of a joke I despise the automatic use of the term 'role model' for high profile sportspeople.

However the reality is that, particularly when it comes to football, once a player becomes a leading figure in a team in this country he becomes a hero figure to some.

Lest there be any doubt about that we need only consider not just the fact that there was a substantial section of the Sheffield United support that was backing his return to their ranks after his release from prison, but the way in which they expressed it, reportedly chanting: "He does what he wants, he does what he wants, Chedwyn Evans he does what he wants."

As things stand Evans is an individual who has been convicted of a disgusting crime, yet has shown no remorse.

His more sensible supporters seek to make virtue of that by claiming he cannot be expected to show remorse while he maintains his claim of innocence, which would seem reasonable.

In terms of whether or not that should permit him to carry on in his chosen profession, however, that claim presents a major issue.

While, quite rightly, Evans was entitled to presumption of innocence before his initial trial, this is a very different situation.

He may still be going through the appeals process, but let us keep in mind that not only has he been convicted of this crime, he has already had his bid to have the verdict overturned by the Court of Appeal.

Until such time as he does manage to persuade a court of his innocence, then, it is incumbent on society, not least out of respect for the victim who is, in some quarters, being subjected to trial by media, to impose a presumption of guilt.

That being so, given the nature of the crime, many of us will continue to feel that he is not currently fit to be part of what is supposed to be family entertainment.