Stars deny guilt in sex offence allegations
IRELAND rugby internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have denied any wrongdoing after being questioned by police over alleged sexual offences.
The Ulster stars and another man were arrested over alleged incidents at a Belfast property. They were released pending a police report being sent to prosecutors for assessment.
Ulster Rugby made clear the men maintain their innocence.
“Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been assisting the PSNI [Police Service of Northern Ireland] with inquiries,” it said in a statement yesterday.
“The players deny any wrongdoing and have not been charged with any offence. As no charges have been brought forward, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
The alleged offences and arrests happened in June but details have only now emerged.
Jackson, 24, has been capped for Ireland 16 times while centre Olding, 23, has played four times. The two Belfast men are established stars for Ulster Rugby and have played regularly this season.
Jackson did not travel to Chicago with the Ireland squad for their upcoming game against New Zealand (see sidebar).
The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) said the out-half was left out of the party for “personal reasons”.
Olding is currently out of action with a hip flexor injury.
Jackson’s lawyers, KRW Law, said their client “rejects completely any allegations made against him”.
His lawyers’ statement added, “Patrick has co-operated fully with police in their inquiries and we have been liaising with police on his behalf.
“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.”
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) said, “Police arrested two men aged 24 and one man aged 23 on Thursday 30 June in relation to a number of sexual offences, reported to have taken place at a property in south Belfast on 28 June.
“The men have been interviewed and released from custody. A file will be prepared for submission to the Public Prosecution Service [PPS]. A fourth man aged 24, will be reported to the PPS in relation to this incident for perverting the course of justice.” –