Furious Ben Stokes slams 'heartless' report into 'extremely painful' family tragedy dating back three decades and the 'grave and lifelong' impact it will have on his mother
England cricketer Ben Stokes has hit out at the publication of details of a family tragedy from three decades ago.
The Ashes hero released a statement after The Sun newspaper reported that his step-brother and step-sister were killed by their father, his mother's former partner, in New Zealand in 1988, three years before he was born.
Stokes said the report contained 'extremely painful, sensitive and personal details' about his family's past, some of which were inaccurate.
He wrote: '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.'
Ben Stokes is pictured with his mother, Deborah, and his father, Gerard
Stokes insisted the paper had 'invaded' the rights and privacy of his family, adding: '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.'
Stokes has received support from his captain Joe Root and England Cricket also expressed support on Twitter, posting a heart emoji and a picture of Stokes with Stuart Broad.
Stokes is the favourite to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in December, having helped England to World Cup glory in July before playing a starring role in the drawn Ashes series.
He pulled off a one-handed 'Superman' catch in England's World Cup opener against South Africa and delivered a never-say-die innings which dragged the hosts back from the brink in a thrilling final against New Zealand.
Then he hit an unbeaten 135 to turn what looked like certain defeat into a memorable one-wicket third Ashes Test win over Australia at Headingley.
Ben Stokes is pictured left after he helped England win the World Cup in a madcap final against New Zealand earlier this year, and right with his wife Clare
The Sun has defended the publication of the story, insisting it contacted the star and 'at no stage did he or his representatives ask us not to publish the story'.
A spokesman 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.'