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17 Oct 2019 18:09
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Cricket

    Ben Stokes hammers The Sun for 'despicable' story dredging up family trauma

    Ben Stokes's rollercoaster northern summer takes another turn, with the England star condemning a story by English tabloid The Sun that dredges up painful family history.

    England cricket star Ben Stokes has condemned a front-page story in English tabloid newspaper The Sun that dealt with a past traumatic incident in his family history.

    The story related to events affecting Stokes' New Zealand-based family in the 1980s.

    The newspaper defended its coverage, saying it had received cooperation from a family member and said the events were "a matter of public record".

    But Stokes criticised the paper for its decision to publish "extremely painful, sensitive and personal details" in his family's private lives.

    "It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism," he wrote on social media.

    "I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family.

    "To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of — in particular — my parents, is utterly disgusting.

    "I am aware that my public profile brings with it consequences for me that I accept entirely.

    "But I will not allow my public profile to be used as an excuse to invade the rights of my parents, my wife, my children or other family members.

    "This is the lowest form of journalism, focussed only on chasing sales with absolutely no regard for the devastation caused to lives as a consequence. It is totally out of order."

    Stokes said the article contained "serious inaccuracies".

    "We need to take a serious look at how we allow our press to behave," he wrote.

    "Despite the fact that this has now been made public, I do please ask all concerned to respect my family's privacy and right to home life."

    England Cricket Board executive officer Tom Harrison released a statement in support of Stokes and his family.

    "We, like the wider sporting world, are disgusted and appalled at the actions taken in revealing the tragic events from Ben's past," Harrison said.

    "We are saddened that an intrusion of this magnitude was deemed necessary in order to sell newspapers or secure clicks.

    "Ben's exploits this summer have cemented his place in cricket's history — we are sure the whole sport, and the country, stands behind him in support."

    The star all-rounder moved with his family from New Zealand to northern England when he was in his early teens.

    This year Stokes and his teammates won the Cricket World Cup, for the first time in England's history, in a dramatic and controversial final against New Zealand after scores were tied after 50 overs and then again following a super over.

    Although England then failed to regain the Ashes, Stokes produced one of the greatest innings of all time, an unbeaten 135 — including a last-wicket partnership of 74 with Jack Leach — to beat Australia at Headingley in the third Test and keep the series alive.

    England skipper Joe Root retweeted Stokes, saying: "Please take the time to read this and respect it."

    Manchester United and England football striker Marcus Rashford spoke out in support, tweeting: "Disappointing to see this. @benstokes has been huge for sport this summer. He and his family deserve better."

    British MP Nick Boles also responded on Twitter, saying:

    "I have resisted reading the story about @benstokes38 family out of respect for their privacy. How can the public profile of a leading sportsman justify the invasion of the privacy of family members who have not sought the benefits of celebrity?".

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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