Smith’s shenanigans are under review, but the Mail has the Stokes story sorted.
Aaron Smith’s shenanigans are under review, but the Mail has the Ben Stokes story sorted.
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into an airport toilet, here comes the sequel to the Aaron Smith saga: Sex, Lies and Facebook. Last time it was ultra-personal; this time it’s quasi-legal.
Last September, before the All Blacks flew out to South Africa, halfback Smith was observed exiting a disabled toilet at Christchurch airport with a smirk on his face. When it emerged that he’d been in there with a woman who wasn’t his partner, he was suspended for a match, sent home and subjected to a barrage of criticism and mockery that, not surprisingly, caused him to lose confidence, form and his place in the starting line-up.
That seemed to be the end of it. But in August, when the All Blacks were in Sydney to play Australia, an Aussie tabloid published a Facebook exchange between Smith and the woman that indicated he’d been less than honest with All Blacks management and had pressured her to lie about the incident. New Zealand Rugby (NZR) got a lawyer on the case and, according to the New Zealand Herald, the early findings of that review don’t show Smith in a good light.
It’s an axiom of politics – or perhaps it’s a line from Yes, Prime Minister – that you should never set up an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be. Assuming the gist of the tabloid story is correct, what will NZR do about it? Is Smith in double jeopardy – at risk of being punished twice for the same offence?
One’s initial instinct is that it’s not double jeopardy because there’s a different offence: last time it was conduct unbecoming while on All Blacks duty; this time around it’s the alleged attempt to muddy the waters. Another axiom of politics is that it’s the cover-up, rather than the scandal itself, that does lasting damage.
It’s been suggested that, by allegedly urging the woman to provide a sworn affidavit that they didn’t have sex, Smith may have exposed himself to the charge of incitement to commit an offence. It would almost be worth having a court case just to observe counsel
It’s an axiom of politics that you should never set up an inquiry unless you know what the outcome will be.
arguing over exactly what Smith had in mind when he Facebooked “are you will to do a sawn afferdavided?”
The innocent victims, notably Smith’s partner, deserve our sympathy, but the affair isn’t without low comedy. However, there’s nothing remotely amusing about the offfield indiscretion now convulsing English cricket and threatening to eliminate star English all-rounder Ben Stokes from the upcoming Ashes series.
While on duty during the one-day series against the West Indies, Stokes went out on the town – in this case, Bristol – and ended up under arrest on suspicion of actual bodily harm after a brawl that resulted in a man being hospitalised.
He was released under investigation and promptly confirmed as vicecaptain of England’s Ashes squad.
But after a tabloid published CCTV footage showing someone bearing a close resemblance to Stokes flattening a man who didn’t seem eager to trade blows, he was suspended indefinitely pending the outcome of the investigation.
Claims have been made that Stokes was sticking up for two men who were being subjected to homophobic abuse. At the time of writing, however, the pair hadn’t come forward and the demanour and behaviour of Stokes – if it’s him – are hardly those of a peacemaker.
The Daily Mail set out to find “what could be behind [Stokes’s] confrontational manner”. The conclusion: it’s all our fault. “Stokes is actually a New Zealander by ancestry and birth … He also has Maori blood from his mother’s distant relatives.”
The Mail rests its case.
Aaron Smith: the cover-up is what does the damage.
Ben Stokes: fighting fit.