Ben Stokes criticises The Sun over story about family tragedy

17 September 2019, 08:21

By Kate Buck

Cricketing hero Ben Stokes has spoken out over a story in the Sun
Cricketing hero Ben Stokes has spoken out over a story in the Sun. Picture: PA

England cricket star Ben Stokes labelled the Sun newspaper ‘despicable’ today after it ran a story about a tragedy in his family.

A statement from the all-rounder said: "Today The Sun has seen fit to publish extremely painful, sensitive and personal details concerning events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years.

"It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism. "I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family.

"For more than three decades, my family has worked hard to deal with the private trauma inevitably associated with these events and has taken great care to keep private what were deeply personal and traumatic events.

"On Saturday, The sun sent a 'reporter' to my parents' home in New Zealand to question them, out of the blue, on this incredibly upsetting topic.

Ben Stokes pictured with mum Deborah and dad Gerard
Ben Stokes pictured with mum Deborah and dad Gerard. Picture: Getty

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

"For more than three decades, my family has worked hard to deal with the private trauma inevitably associated with these events and has taken great care to keep private what were deeply personal and traumatic events.

"On Saturday, The sun sent a 'reporter' to my parents' home in New Zealand to question them, out of the blue, on this incredibly upsetting topic.

"If that wasn't bad enough, The Sun think it is acceptable to sensationalise our personal tragedy for their front page. "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.

"They are entitled to a private life of their own. "The decision to publish these details has grave and lifelong consequences for my mum in particular.

"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. The article also contains serious inaccuracies which has compounded the damaged caused. "We need to take a serious look at how we allow our press to behave.

"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."

I response to Ben Stokes, The Sun said: "The Sun has the utmost sympathy for Ben Stokes and his mother but it is only right to point out the story was told with the co-operation of a family member who supplied details, provided photographs and posed for pictures

"The tragedy is also a matter of public record and was the subject of extensive front page publicity in New Zealand at the time.

"The Sun has huge admiration for Ben Stokes and we were delighted to celebrate his sporting heroics this summer.  He was contacted prior to publication and at no stage did he or his representatives ask us not to publish the story."

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