ITV have refused to apologise for the controversial remarks made by Judy Finnigan on Loose Women this morning after the panelist appeared to make excuses for convicted rapist Ched Evans.

Finnigan, who was making her debut on the show, has caused uproar on social media sites by describing his hotel room sex attack on a 19 year-old as ‘not violent’ and saying the victim was drunk. 

She went on to say that the former Sheffield United footballer should be allowed to return to the pitch after serving his jail time…

The veteran TV presenter said: “He’s served his time. 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.”

While viewers blasted Finnigan’s remarks, ITV stood by Judy and insisted Loose Women is a forum for “frank discussion”.

A spokesperson said: “Loose Women is a daily talk show centred around topical debate and frank discussion. Opinions are expressed and exchanged from a mix of of viewpoints.”

Evans, 23, was jailed for five years in 2012 and is expected to be released next week after serving under half of his sentence.

Judy went on: “‘It was unpleasant, in a hotel room, I believe, and she was – she had far too much to drink. And you know, that is reprehensible, but he has been convicted and he has served his time.

“Now when he comes out, what are we supposed to do? Just actually refuse to let him do his job? Again, even though he has already been punished?”