Sun story is 'heartless' and 'immoral' - Ben Stokes
Ben Stokes has hit out at The Sun newspaper for the "heartless" and "immoral" decision to publish a front-page article about a family tragedy that occurred in New Zealand before he was born.
In a statement on Twitter, Stokes said the story concerned "events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years" adding that it contained "serious inaccuracies which has compounded the damage caused".
"The decision to publish these details has grave and lifelong consequences for my mum in particular," Stokes said. "To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of - in particular - my parents is utterly disgusting.
"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."
Stokes has hit the headlines for all the right reasons this summer, thanks to his starring role in both England's World Cup win against New Zealand at Lord's in July, and his stunning unbeaten 135 in the third Ashes Test at Headingley, a performance that was hailed as one of the greatest innings of all time as England squared the series with a one-wicket win.
"I am aware that my public profile brings with it consequences for me that I accept entirely," he said. "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.
"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."
Stokes' statement has been retweeted more 25,000 times, including by his Test captain Joe Root, who urged his followers to "please take the time to read this and respect it", and the Manchester United striker, Marcus Rashford, who stated that Stokes had been "huge for sport this summer. He and his family deserve better."
pic.twitter.com/ojjjvstZI2— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) September 17, 2019
Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, also joined in the condemnation on behalf of English cricket.
"We, like the wider sporting world, are disgusted and appalled at the actions taken in revealing the tragic events from Ben's past," he 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.''
In a statement, The Sun insisted the paper had the "utmost sympathy" for Stokes and his mother, but said that they had received the co-operation of a family member in compiling the story.
"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 newspaper added.