Ex-football club chief cleared of girl’s rape

A former Hull City director who was jailed after he was found guilty of raping a schoolgirl is rebuilding his life at home after appeal judges overturned his “unsafe” convictions.

Philip George Webster, 60, of Malton Road, Beverley, was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting the 14-year-old and jailed for 10 years at Leeds Crown Court in July 2009.

But Mr Webster, the club’s former finance director, launched a Court of Appeal challenge to his convictions and in March walked free when three judges quashed his convictions. Reporting was initially banned by Lord Justice Rix pending resolution of other matters.

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Lord Justice Rix, who heard the appeal with Mr Justice Maddison and Judge David Radford over two days in March, said the jury’s guilty verdicts were “unsafe”.

Mr Webster’s barrister, Ian Peddie QC, had argued that the trial was not fair, owing in part to mistakes in the way the crown court judge summed up the evidence.

“We say that the learned judge failed to give a fair and balanced account of the defence case in the summing up,” the QC told the Court of Appeal.

“One of the principal concerns relates to the manner in which the judge dealt with the date of the alleged rape.

“It is our case that the complainant was ultimately unequivocal as to the alleged date. It had occurred on a Sunday, during the school term, after her birthday.

“That reduced the time-frame to effectively one date and the learned judge failed to make that clear in her summing up.”

The problem, he said, was that photographs of the girl, known to have been taken on that day, did not show her in the sort of mood which could be expected in someone who has recently been raped.

“We say that the learned judge encouraged the jury to disregard the unequivocal evidence as to the date of the rape when she said it did not matter whether she got the time or the date wrong,” he continued.

Although the judges gave their decision quashing the convictions immediately in March, they reserved their reasons until yesterday, when reporting restrictions were relaxed to allow the result to be revealed.