Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial verdict: A story that had eyes of the world watching

By Brett Campbell

A huge international media scrum formed outside Laganside Courthouse yesterday as Paddy Jackson spoke for the first time after being cleared of rape.

The trial, which was in its ninth week when the jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict, attracted intense media interest throughout the UK and Ireland - but it also made headlines around the world.

The New Zealand Herald was among the first websites to report: "Two Ireland Rugby Players Acquitted of Rape".

The trial also generated significant interest in countries where rugby has a big fan base, such as France and Italy.

Online, the headlines could be seen in many different languages, such as Russian and Afrikaans.

A photo of Ireland international Jackson speaking outside court appeared on the website of the Spanish national daily sports publication Marca, which had been following the dramatic court proceedings to its 2.5 million daily readers.

La Vanguardia, another Spanish newspaper, translated into Catalan Mr Jackson's short statement on their website in which he thanked the judge and the jury for "giving me a fair trial".

After thanking his lawyers and his family for their support, he said he had nothing else to add "out of respect for my employers".

Jackson was also found not guilty of a second charge of sexual assault.

His team-mate, Stuart Olding, was also cleared of raping the alleged victim after a night out in June 2016.

Jackson's solicitor, Joe McVeigh, hit out at the investigation which he said has been "characterised by the turning of a blind eye to inadequacies in the evidence of the complainant combined with the very apparent investigative bias".

His words were carried across the globe on cable and satellite sports channel ESPN, which focused on the fact that both players remain "relieved of all duties" while a joint Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby internal review is carried out.

Belfast Telegraph

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