Solicitor for professional footballers’ body becomes Law Society president

Stuart Gilhooly is association’s first president to have dedicated Twitter account

Stuart Gilhooly came to public prominence in November 2014, when he posted a blog on the PFAI website about footballer Ched Evans, above. Photograph:  Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

Stuart Gilhooly came to public prominence in November 2014, when he posted a blog on the PFAI website about footballer Ched Evans, above. Photograph: Matthew Horwood/Getty Images

 

Stuart Gilhooly, solicitor for the Professional Footballers’ Association of Ireland, has been announced as president of the Law Society.

The Dubliner (45), a partner in law firm HJ Ward & Co, in Dublin, will serve a one-year term representing the 16,000 members of the society.

He has worked on the society’s council for 17 years and chaired various committees, including finance, education and litigation during that time. In a press release on Friday, the society said he will be the first president to have a dedicated Twitter account.

He came to public prominence in November 2014, when he posted a blog on the PFAI website about professional footballer Ched Evans.

At the time, Evans, a former Wales international, had just been released from prison. He had been found guilty, in 2012, of the rape of a 19-year-old woman in a hotel in Rhyl, north Wales.

In October this year, at a retrial, Mr Evans’ conviction was overturned. But in 2014, there was controversy about whether he should be allowed play professional football again and Mr Gilhooly expressed his opinion on the issue.

‘Victimised’

In a blog, he said Mr Evans had been “being victimised” and said his crime was “at the bottom end”.

“There was no violence and thankfully the victim has no recollection of it. This, I hasten to add, does not make it right, or anything close to it, but it is nonetheless a mitigating factor,” Mr Gilhooly said.

“It’s not easy to muster up too much sympathy for Mr Evans but there is surely nothing worse than being accused of a crime which you genuinely believe you didn’t commit. The argument against that is that a jury convicted him of the crime. The same applied to the Guildford Four and the Birmingham Six. They got no public sympathy either.”

Mr Gilhooly also said that if having sex with a drunk woman was rape “then thousands of men are guilty of rape every day”.

“The simple point is that degrees of intoxication are a very difficult concept for young men to grapple with when they themselves have had plenty to drink,” he said.

The public response to the blog was immediate. Sexual violence organisations, including the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, came out to criticise Mr Gilhooly.

On October 14th this year, Mr Evans was acquitted of the rape. Mr Gilhooly tweeted that he was pleased the footballer got justice.

He became president of the Law Society on November 4th.