The Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood is no longer facing criminal proceedings over attempted rape after prosecutors dropped the case against him.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was “no longer a realistic prospect of conviction” after key witnesses withdrew their cooperation from the investigation.
Greenwood, 21, was arrested and later charged with attempted rape after an investigation launched in January 2022. The striker, who has played once for England, denied the charges and had been preparing to go on trial later this year until the CPS dropped the case on Thursday.
In a short statement released on his behalf, Greenwood said: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”
A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review. In this case, a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.
“We have explained our decision to all parties. We would always encourage any potential victims to come forward and report to police and we will prosecute wherever our legal test is met.”
Greenwood had been due to stand trial in November this year after being charged with attempted rape, assault and “repeatedly engaging” in coercive and controlling behaviour.
He was accused of attempting to rape the complainant in October 2021 – a charge he denied – and of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in December that year.
The footballer was also charged with monitoring the complainant’s social media accounts and “making threats and derogatory comments towards her, amounting to a serious effect upon her,” a court was told last year.
It can now be reported, however, that key witnesses withdrew cooperation from the police investigation in April 2022.
A court heard last October how a central plank in the inquiry had collapsed only four months after Greenwood was arrested.
It is understood that police and prosecutors initially decided to continue with the case because of the significant level of public interest, given Greenwood’s high profile and the seriousness of the allegations.
But a review of the case by CPS lawyers has concluded that there was no realistic prospect of conviction given the collapse of the case.
Greenwood, one of the most promising English strikers of his generation, is not expected to return immediately to the Manchester United fold until an internal investigation is concluded.
It is understood that the internal probe will look in detail at the allegations made against the forward and the decision by the CPS to drop the case.
Ch Supt Michaela Kerr, Greater Manchester police’s head of public protection, said: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022 no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.
“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.”
She added: “I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls, and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them. An ever-increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and to care for victims.
“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.”
Manchester United said it “notes the decision” of the CPS and that it would “conduct its own process before determining next steps”. It added: “We will not make any further comment until that process is complete.”
In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support for rape and sexual abuse on 0808 802 9999 in England and Wales, 0808 801 0302 in Scotland, or 0800 0246 991 in Northern Ireland. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html