Ben Stokes: ‘Country stands behind him’ over row with The Sun, says cricket chief
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England cricketer Ben Stokes has the support of”the whole game and the country” after criticising The Sun over a story it ran on his family, a leading cricket leader says.
Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), added he was”disgusted and appalled” by the paper’s actions.
Stokes has predicted Tuesday’s front-page narrative”utterly disgusting”.
However, The Sun has defended its own journalism.
It pointed out how it had received the exact co-operation of a family member and said the events described were”a matter of public record” and”that the subject of extensive front-page marketing in New Zealand at the time”.
A statement was prompted by the story from the England, Stokes and Durham all-rounder. The 28-year-old stated it had been the”lowest form of journalism” which dealt with”deeply traumatic and personal events” which affected his New Zealand-based household over 30 years back.
Stokes moved to Cumbria and was born in New Zealand with his family.
He won the Cricket World Cup with England this summer made an unlikely 135 not out in the third Ashes Test against Australia at Headingley to keep England in emptiness.
His comments on the story drew on support from characters in the game and life, and team-mates such as England captain Joe Root.
“We, like the wider sporting world, are appalled at the actions taken in showing the tragic incidents from Ben’s previous,” Harrison stated from the ECB’s announcement.
“We’re saddened that an intrusion of this size was deemed necessary in order to sell papers or secure clicks. Ben’s exploits at Lord’s and Headingley cemented his place in history – we are sure the whole sport, and also the nation, stands in service.”
Today the Sun has seen fit to release personal, sensitive and exceptionally debilitating details concerning events going back.
It’s difficult to find words that adequately describe such despicable and low behaviour. I can’t conceive of anything more immoral, unkind or insulting into my family’s feelings and circumstances.
For more than three decades, my entire family has taken great care to keep traumatic events and private what were profoundly personal and has worked hard to deal with the trauma.
That the Sun sent a’ reporter’ to my own parents’ house to question them, to this topic, from the blue. The Sun think it is okay to sensationalise our tragedy to their page, if that wasn’t bad enough.
To use my name as a excuse to shatter the privacy and lives of – in particular – my parents, is still disgusting. I am know my people brings with it consequences for me that I accept entirely.
I, however, won’t permit my profile to be applied as an excuse to intrude on the rights of my parents, my spouse, my kids or family members. They are entitled to a private life in their own.
The decision to print these details has tomb and lifelong effects for my mum particularly.
This is the cheapest form of journalism, on pursuing sales with zero regard for the devastation caused to lives as a 26, focussed. It is completely out of order.
The post also contains serious inaccuracies that has compounded the harm. We must take a serious look at the way we allow our press to act.
A spokesperson for the Sun said:”The Sun has the utmost sympathy for Ben Stokes along with his mum but it’s only correct to point the story had been told with the co-operation of a family member who provided details, given photos and posed for photos.
“The catastrophe is also a matter of public record and was the topic of comprehensive front page publicity in New Zealand at the time.
“The Sun has enormous respect for Ben Stokes and we were thrilled to observe his sporting heroics this summer. He had been contacted prior to book and at no point did he or his agents ask us not to release the story.”
There was not any justification for The Sun narrative beyond selling papers, based on press regulation effort category Hacked Off.
Board member Steve Barnett – who is a lecturer in communications – told BBC Radio 5 Live that the story was”graphic evidence” of a newspaper”driving a coach and horses through their code of conduct”.
“He has done absolutely nothing wrong and his own family background is dragged through the mud. I can not see any excuse for this other than the fact it’ll sell newspapers. This was a brutally commercial choice which took no account of the own code of conduct, which says everyone deserves respect to their family and private life.”
In addition, he questioned the paper’s defence which the information had come from a relative, saying committing”carte blanche for any family member to return and say’I have some dirt or any narrative or may give you a inside track on a few catastrophe'” was”not a good way to conduct a journalistic operation”.
“Ben Stokes himself said if it had been all about him he could stand up and take it. He is man enough to state I am at the public life and will take what is forthcoming – but to do that for your loved ones, to folks who have not ever done anything besides be associated with you, is unforgivable,” he further added.
Ian Murray, the executive director of the Society of Editors, told the station:”I understand there will be a great deal of folks who concur with Ben Stokes in the things he stated and will side with him. There’ll be a great deal of journalists who will find this distasteful.
“It’s not for your Society to say whether it is distasteful or not but what we will do is defend a free press in this country.
“Was it editorially justifiable? The paper believed that it was.
“I am not even defending the Sun – what I’m defending is your principle and saying let’s be very careful about what we do. We have freedom of expression within this state to a huge extent – there are tons of legislation. We’ve got a press that is completely free. It’s such a gem in the crown of any free society. And there are the sharks circling, the politicians, the rich, the powerful who would like to observe free press shut down”
New press regulation has been introduced into press standards in 2011 and 2012 following the Leveson Inquiry. It watched a few books linking a self-regulatory body setup to become”Leveson-compliant”.
Nevertheless papers signed around Ipso, the Independent Press Standards Organisation, also abide by their own Editors’ Code of Practice.
The history tradition for men and women that do not like history!
Analysis and comment by the BBC’s cricket correspondent.