Judy Finnigan apologises for Loose Women rape comments
TV star Judy Finnigan has apologised after comments she made about convicted rapist Ched Evans on ITV's Loose Women show prompted a Twitter backlash.
"I apologise unreservedly for any offence that I may have caused as a result of the wording I used," said the former This Morning presenter.
Finnigan stoked viewers' ire by saying the rape was "not violent".
Evans has served half of a five-year sentence after being convicted of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2011.
Finnigan and her fellow Loose Women discussed his case on Monday following reports the 25-year-old footballer may return to Sheffield United following his release.
"If he does go back, he will have to brave an awful lot of comments," said Finnigan during her debut appearance on the lunchtime programme.
"But, having said that, he has served his time, he's served two years.
"The rape - and I am not, please, by any means minimising any kind of rape - but the rape was not violent, he didn't cause any bodily harm to the person.
"It was unpleasant, in a hotel room I believe, and she [the victim] had far too much to drink.
"That is reprehensible but he has been convicted and he has served his time."
A spokesperson for broadcasting watchdog Ofcom said it had received nine complaints about the 66-year-old's remarks.
Her comments also drew a response from Vera Baird QC, Police and Crime Commissioner for Northumbria, who campaigns against violence towards women and girls.
Rape, she said, is "a serious injury [that] undermines some people for life," adding: "No bodily injury has little relevance."
Ms Baird also took issue with Finnegan's remarks on the victim being inebriated at the time of the incident.
"What has this got to do with this if he forced himself upon her?" she said. "If you get drunk and someone steals your wallet, does this mean it's any less of a theft than if you were sober?"
In a statement issued later on Monday, Finnigan said: "I absolutely wasn't suggesting that rape was anything other than an horrendous crime.
"As I said on the programme, I was in no way attempting to minimise the terrible ordeal that any woman suffers as a result.
"The point I was attempting to raise as part of the debate was what should happen to someone after they have committed a crime and served their time?"
Evans, who was capped 13 times for Wales before his conviction, is due to be released early this month.
When asked to comment, a Loose Women spokesperson said the show was "centred around topical debate and frank discussion" and included opinions "from a mix of viewpoints".