Belfast Telegraph

Malone RFC issue apology over their players' 'Jackson and Olding' photo

Malone players referenced two of the accused in the Belfast rape trial while posing with McCrea Cup
Malone players referenced two of the accused in the Belfast rape trial while posing with McCrea Cup

By Claire O'Boyle

Malone Rugby Football Club has launched an investigation after an "inappropriate" photograph of two of its players was posted online.

The two sportsmen, one of them topless, were pictured wearing the name tags 'Paddy Jackson' and 'Stuart Olding' on their chests, with a trophy sandwiched between their bodies.

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were last week found not guilty of rape after a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

It is understood the picture, which came to light yesterday, was taken after Malone 2nd XV's McCrea Cup victory at the Kingspan Stadium on Monday.

Following the emergence of the photo Malone said the club wished to apologise for any offence caused.

"It has been brought to our attention that an inappropriate photograph involving Malone players has been posted on a private social media site," it said.

"Malone was unaware of the photograph and will investigate how it occurred.

"The club apologises for any offence caused by the contents of the photograph.

"A full investigation will now take place by Malone RFC and the usual disciplinary procedures will be followed."

It is understood the two men in the photo are not scheduled to play any matches in the next week.

Ulster Rugby said: "Ulster Rugby has been in contact with representatives from Malone RFC, who have advised that they are carrying out a full investigation."

Ireland internationals Mr Jackson (26) and Mr Olding (25) were acquitted by a unanimous jury of eight men and three women after a high-profile trial.

Mr Jackson was also found not guilty of sexual assault.

Former Ulster player Blane McIlroy (26) was acquitted of one charge of exposure relating to the same incident in June 2016.

A fourth man, Rory Harrison (25), who previously played for Ulster Under-20s, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

It took the jury three hours and 45 minutes to complete its deliberations and acquit all four men.

A legal challenge to reporting restrictions still in place following the conclusion of the trial will go before Judge Patricia Smyth on Monday.

The conduct of Mr Jackson and Mr Olding is subject to an internal review by Ulster Rugby and the IRFU, as is that of team-mate Craig Gilroy, who was involved in a controversial WhatsApp exchange revealed during the 42-day trial.

Belfast Telegraph

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