Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 September 2014

Spelman son sorry over banned drugs

Caroline Spelman says her son was trying to speed up his recovery from a serious injury

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman's rugby playing teenage son Jonathan is "deeply sorry" for taking banned substances, the Cabinet minister has said.

The family decided not to appeal against a High Court judge's refusal to continue a privacy injunction which would have prevented the details being published.

In a joint statement, Mrs Spelman and her husband, Mark, said the ex-England under-16 rugby player had been trying to speed up his recovery from a serious injury.

The couple said: "Our son, who was then aged 16, was injured in September 2011 and took some widely available drugs in order to aid his recovery. The substances are, however, banned under anti-doping rules.

"He has made a voluntary statement to the RFU and is now subject to their disciplinary process, which is still ongoing. Our son knows that taking a banned substance can never, ever be right and he is deeply sorry for the mistakes he has made and is determined to learn from them. We will do everything we can to support him as he faces the consequences of his actions. He is still very young and we hope he can be given space to do that."

Jonathan went on the internet to find medication after suffering a serious leg injury he feared would end his rugby playing career. The 17-year-old was forced to miss out on a trial with England after doctors told him his recovery could take nine months.

He was originally granted the order preventing the publication of the revelations in the Daily Star Sunday by Mr Justice Lindblom at a private hearing last month. The judge said the information, which was leaked to the newspaper, attracted a reasonable expectation of privacy and publication would not advance the public interest.

But, on February 24, Mr Justice Tugendhat concluded that it was "not necessary or proportionate" to continue the injunction. The injunction remained in place until 4pm on Friday to give the 17-year-old, who was suing through his mother and father Mark, an opportunity to ask the Court of Appeal for permission to challenge the judge's decision.

The action has left the Spelman family with legal costs of £60,994.

Gareth Morgan, Daily Star Sunday editor, said: "The Daily Star Sunday is delighted that common sense has prevailed and this story can now be reported. The use of banned substances by an elite athlete is a matter that is in the public interest and an injunction to hush up the facts should never have been sought."

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