Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Rugby stars Jackson and Olding vehemently deny sex offence claims

By Jonathan Bradley

Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding yesterday denied all wrongdoing after it emerged they were arrested earlier this year.

Jackson (24), along with Ulster team-mate Olding (23), were arrested in relation to a number of alleged sexual offences said to have taken place at a property in south Belfast on June 28.

Jackson will miss Ireland's high-profile clash with the All Blacks in Chicago on Saturday.

The Ulster out-half had earlier pulled out of the trip with the IRFU citing "personal reasons".

In a statement, lawyers for Jackson said they were concerned that details of the arrest had been leaked to the Press.

"He rejects completely any allegations made against him and Patrick has co-operated fully with police in their enquiries and we have been liaising with police on his behalf," they said.

"We are both disappointed and indeed concerned that this information has been leaked to the Press before the investigation has concluded and well in advance of any final decision.

"This has the potential to be prejudicial to our client's interests.

"We will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to protect his legal position as he is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

"We urge the media to restrain from any damaging speculation."

In a separate statement, legal representatives for Stuart Olding said: "We wish to emphasise that he completely rejects any allegations of wrongdoing made against him and is confident his name will be cleared in due course.

"Our client has fully co-operated with the PSNI in their enquiries and is of previous good character.

"It is disappointing that this information has been made public before the police investigation has even been completed. We wish to point out that we will take any necessary steps to safeguard our client's legal position and to uphold his right to the presumption of innocence." A spokesman for Ulster Rugby said: "Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been assisting the PSNI with their enquiries.

"The players deny any wrongdoing and have not been charged with any offence."

He added: "As no charges have been brought forward, it would be inappropriate to comment further."

A PSNI spokesman said: "Police arrested two men aged 24 and one man aged 23 on Thursday, June 30 in relation to a number of sexual offences reported to have taken place at a property in south Belfast on June 28.

"The men have been interviewed and released from custody.

"A file will be prepared for submission to the PPS. A fourth man aged 24 will be reported to the PPS in relation to this incident for perverting the course of justice."

At yesterday's Ulster Press conference head coach Les Kiss would not comment further on the statement released by the province.

He did say Jackson would be available for the November series next week but would not play in Friday's Edinburgh game.

"Game management was already in the way anyway - he'd played his maximum number of games," said Kiss.

"The statements have been put out, it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.

"That's our stance at this stage."

Jackson played 80 minutes for his province against Munster last weekend and was due to join up with his national team-mates on Sunday for yesterday's flight to the United States.

With Johnny Sexton having only recently declared himself 100% fit after a hamstring issue, Jackson had been hoping to ramp up the pressure on the incumbent 10 after a starring role in June's historic Test win in South Africa.

Four Ulstermen - Rory Best, Jared Payne, Andrew Trimble and Craig Gilroy - are in the Ireland squad for the game, but Iain Henderson misses out through injury.

Belfast Telegraph

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