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Tuesday 22 January 2019

Belfast rugby club says sorry for players' 'Jackson' photo

Paddy Jackson: not guilty
Paddy Jackson: not guilty
The controversial photograph of two Malone rugby players that emereged on social media was taken on Easter Monday

Claire O'Boyle and Brett Campbell

A prominent Belfast rugby club has launched an investigation after an "inappropriate" photograph of two of its players, referencing Ulster players Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson, was posted online.

The two Malone Rugby Club sportsmen, one of them topless, were pictured wearing the name tags 'Paddy Jackson' and 'Stuart Olding' on their chests, with a trophy sandwiched between their bodies.

The men pictured are not Ulster players Mr Jackson or Mr Olding, who were last week found not guilty of rape after a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.

It is understood the picture, which came to light yesterday, was taken after Malone's 2nds McCrea Cup victory at the Kingspan Stadium on Easter Monday. Following the emergence of the photo, Malone RFC said the club wished to apologise for any offence caused.

"It has been brought to our attention that an inappropriate photograph involving Malone players has been posted on a private social media site," a club spokesperson said.

"Malone was unaware of the photograph and will investigate how it occurred. The club apologises for any offence caused by the contents of the photograph.

"A full investigation will now take place by Malone RFC and the usual disciplinary procedures will be followed."

It is understood the two men pictured were not scheduled to play any matches in the next week.

A spokesperson for Ulster Rugby added: "Ulster Rugby has been in contact with representatives from Malone RFC, who have advised that they are carrying out a full investigation."

Ireland internationals Jackson (26) and Olding (25) were acquitted by a unanimous jury of eight men and three women after a high-profile trial.

Jackson was also found not guilty of sexual assault.

Their friend Blane McIlroy (26) was acquitted of one charge of exposure relating to the same incident in June 2016, while a fourth man, Rory Harrison (25), was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

It took the jury three hours and 45 minutes to complete its deliberations and acquit all four men.

A legal challenge to reporting restrictions still in place following the conclusion of the trial will go before Judge Patricia Smyth on Monday.

Irish Independent

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