England’s World Cup and the Ashes hero Ben Stokes has issued an extraordinary statement lashing out at the British tabloid The Sun for its ‘immoral, heartless’ journalism. The tabloid, known for intruding celebrities’ personal lives on Tuesday carried a front-page story on a tragedy that Stokes’ family had suffered 31 years ago.
Stokes wrote, “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. 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.”
The Sun in its frotn page headline had written, “Hero Ben’s brother and sister were shot dead.” Terming the coverage on his family’s personal tragedy, Stokes wrote, “For more than three decades, my family has worked hard to deal with the private trauma inevitably associated with these events and has taken great care to keep private what were deeply personal and traumatic events. On Saturday, the Sun sent a ‘reporter’ to my parents’ home in New Zealand to question them, out of the blue, on this incredibly upsetting topic. If that wasn’t bad enough, the Sun think it is acceptable to sensationalise our personal tragedy for their front page. (sic).”
He added, “To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of in particular- my parents is utterly disgusting. I am aware that my public profile brings with it consequences for me that I accept entirely. But I will not allow my public profile to be used as an excuse to invade the rights of my parents, my wife, my children or other family members. They are entitled to a private life of their own. The decision to publish these details has grave and lifelong consequences for my mum in particular.”
Stokes said that The Sun’s front-page story on his personal tragedy was ‘the lowest form of journalism, focussed only on chasing sales with absolutely no regard for the devastation caused to lives as a consequence.’ “It is totally out of order,” he added.
He concluded his statement by highlighing ‘serious inaccuracies’ that, according to him had compounded the ‘damage caused.’ “We need to take a serious look at how we allow our press to behave,” he continued.
He ended his statement by saying, “Despite the fact that this has now been made public, I do please ask all concerned to respect my family’s privacy and right to home life.”