Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding to be prosecuted for alleged rape
Two rugby players will appear in court in Belfast next month and will contest the charges
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby in a statement said they were aware “that Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been charged by the PSNI in relation to serious allegations made against them”. Ireland’s Paddy Jackson (above) kicks a penalty against France at Aviva stadium. File photograph: Cyril Byrne
Mr Jackson and Mr Olding are due to appear at Laganside Court in Belfast next month to face the rape charges.
The North’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) said that four men are to be prosecuted in relation to the incident. The two other men are being prosecuted for lesser offences related to the alleged rape and sources said they are not professional rugby players.
It was first confirmed in November last year that the PSNI had questioned Mr Jackson and Mr Olding about the alleged rape at a house in south Belfast in June.
The solicitors for the two rugby players said the men denied the allegations and would be contesting the charges.
The two players have been relieved of their Ireland and Ulster playing duties pending the outcome of what is expected to be a jury trial.
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby in a statement said they were aware “that Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been charged by the PSNI in relation to serious allegations made against them”.
“The players have cooperated fully and strenuously deny the charges. The IRFU and Ulster Rugby take these allegations extremely seriously,” they added.
“To allow the players time to address this matter fully Ulster Rugby and the IRFU have agreed that they be relieved of their duties and obligations until the conclusion of this process. Appropriate support structures will be put in place with them during this time,” they said.
“As this is a matter for the Public Prosecution Service it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Decision to prosecute
The PPS in a statement said that all four men were informed on Monday of the decision to prosecute. The alleged offences took place on June 28th last year.
“Following a careful review of all of the available evidence, in accordance with our code for prosecutors, it has been decided that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute four individuals,” said a PPS spokesman on Tuesday.
Kevin Winters, acting for Mr Jackson, said he was very disappointed “at the decision of the PPS to prosecute given the particular circumstances and facts known in this case”.
“Our client rejects completely the allegations made against him and we are confident he will be exonerated in due course,” he added.
“Given that the case will be a jury trial it is absolutely critical that nothing is done or said in the media to prejudice due process and to that end we urge restraint on any sensationalist reporting,” said Mr Winters.
“We will push for as early a hearing as possible as Patrick wants to quickly resume playing his rugby for Ulster and representing his country.”
Mr Olding’s solicitor Joe Rice said it was disappointing that more than a year since the original allegations that the PPS had “belatedly” taken the decision to prosecute his client. He described Mr Olding as a man of “impeccable character” with an “unblemished” record.
Mr Rice said Mr Olding has cooperated fully with the PSNI inquiry that began last summer. “He is not on bail, he does not face any restrictions, and he is now being served with an indictable summons to attend to answer serious criminal charges at Laganside Magistrates Court on August 23rd,” he said.
“He is anxious to clear his name in court in the near future,” said Mr Rice. “It should be stressed that he wishes to uphold the presumption of innocence in Northern Ireland law and will be pleading not guilty to these allegations. He will be fully contesting these allegations through the court system in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Rice.
“Obviously we would ask everyone to respect the presumption of innocence that applies,” he added.