Belfast Telegraph

Key sponsor of Ulster Rugby 'highly concerned' following rape case

A key sponsor of Ulster Rugby said it is "highly concerned" about issues that emerged during the rape trial of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Bank of Ireland, has been synonymous with the team as one of its lead sponsors for the past 20 years. It said it raised concerns about the behaviour of the two players who were cleared of rape.

The firm contacted the team's chief executive Shane Logan over issues arising from the high-profile trial that lasted nine weeks.

They were acquitted over two weeks ago, but have not been allowed to return to play for the province as a review into their conduct is underway by Ulster and the IRFU.

Mr Jackson (26) and teammate Mr Olding (25) were unanimously acquitted of rape by a jury of eight men and three women. Mr Jackson was found not guilty of a further charge of sexual assault.

Both sportsmen apologised for their behaviour and the controversial WhatsApp messages - described by Mr Jackson as "offensive and degrading" which were used as evidence in the trial.

A spokeswoman for the Bank of Ireland confirmed it had spoken to the club.

"It is of paramount importance to Bank of Ireland that our sponsorship activity aligns with and supports our core values, and reflects positively on Bank of Ireland through association.

"We understand that an internal review is underway at Ulster Rugby. We expect this review to be robust, to fully address the issues raised, and that decisions will be taken - and policies and protocols be put in place - that fully address the issues that have arisen."

Ulster Rugby has been contacted for comment.

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