England all-rounder Ben Stokes has slammed the English daily The Sun for publishing a front-page story revealing “extremely painful, sensitive and personal details” concerning the private lives of his New Zealand-based family, going back more than 30 years ago.
Stokes, who has had a terrific summer on the cricket field, dishing out heroic performances for England in the World Cup followed by the Ashes 2019, said it was “utterly disgusting” and the “lowest form of journalism” from The Sun.
In a statement on Twitter on Tuesday, Stokes said the newspaper’s decision to publish the story would have “grave and lifelong consequences” for his mother, in particular. He claimed the story, which was also picked up by Mail Online, contained a number of serious inaccuracies.
“Today the Sun has seen fit to publish extremely painful, sensitive and personal details concerning events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years,” he wrote. “It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism. I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family.”
Stokes criticized the article as “the lowest form of journalism, focused only on chasing sales” and asked people to respect his family’s privacy and right to home life. “To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of – in particular – my parents is utterly disgusting,” he wrote.
The article described in detail events in New Zealand 31 years ago, before he was born, when his mother’s ex-husband killed their two children before taking his own life.
Stokes said a reporter had turned up at his parents’ home in New Zealand “out of the blue” to ask them about the tragedy. The Sun reported that the couple and the cricketer had declined to comment.
In his statement, Stokes said his own public profile was not an excuse to “invade” the rights and privacy of his family members. He added: “This is the lowest form of journalism, focused only on chasing sales with absolutely no regard for the devastation caused to lives as a consequence. It is totally out of order.”
— Ben Stokes (@benstokes38) September 17, 2019
Stokes’s England teammate and Test captain Joe Root has also come out in support of the all-rounder and urged the public to respect his decision.
Please take the time to read this and respect it. https://t.co/06FuuNLMcS
— Joe Root (@root66) September 17, 2019