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Trial judge addresses Best controversy

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Rape trial judge instructs jury relating to Rory Best's attendance

The judge presiding over the trial in which Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding stand accused of rape has addressed the jury in relation to the attendance in court of Irish captain Rory Best.

Best’s attendance at the trial was the source of some controversy in Ireland, with a campaign being waged online against the hooker for his appearance at Laganside Crown Court last week.

The Journal.ie report that during the trial this afternoon, Judge Patricia Smyth addressed the 12 person jury in relation to the media coverage of Best’s attendance.

“You may have been aware of press coverage or coverage of some nature about the appearance at this trial of Mr Rory Best, who I understand is the captain of the Ireland Rugby team.

“I want to make it absolutely clear to you, and I want to make it clear to the public, the only reason Mr Rory Best was in this court last week was because he was directed to be here by senior counsel.

“That’s the reason why he was here, and as a jury you should know that.”

Best broke his silence at the post-France press conference and explained exactly why he was at the trial.

“We sign out on Tuesday night, Wednesday is our day off, so technically we don’t need permission to do stuff on our own time.

“The reason I was there, it’s on the record I’ve been called as a character witness. I was advised it was important to attend, so I got both sides of the story.

“Because it’s an ongoing legal matter, I will make no further comment than that.”

The online ‘outrage’ saw hundreds of social media posts claim they would not be watching Ireland’s match against France as a result of the attendance of the Irish captain at the trial.

The following tweets give a flavour of the #notmycaptain campaign.

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Rape trial judge instructs jury relating to Rory Best's attendance