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.
Passionate about rugby, but can not and will not ignore the fact that our captain refuses to address his questionable actions. He should be thoroughly ashamed. Irish rugby has handled this awful situation with very little compassion #NotMyCaptain
— Katie Healy (@whatkhdid) February 2, 2018
“Shoulder to shoulder” unless youre 21, female and about to give testimony about the worst night of your life. #notmycaptain
— Aisling (@Aisling_Pash) February 2, 2018
Step down as Captain. You have let the position down by attending the trial on the very day a 19 year girl gave evidence saying she was raped. Not just a lack of judgement. Unacceptable #notmycaptain
— Roughan Mac Namara (@RoughanMac) February 1, 2018
What about the women of Ireland @RoryBest2?Did you spare a thought for the girls who put on their jerseys again and again to throw their support behind you?while you throw your support behind alleged rapists who clearly have no respect for women! #notmycaptain
— Sarah Hegarty (@HeggersKeggers) February 2, 2018
— Emma (@modernbanshee) February 3, 2018
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