The Sun has issued an apology and paid legal damages to England cricketer Ben Stokes after reporting on a historic family tragedy.
The Sun at the time defended its September 2019 front-page, which retold the story of the deaths of Stokes’s half-brother and sister in New Zealand in 1988, three years before he was born.
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The paper said the story was published with the cooperation of a family member. The paper doorstepped Stokes’s parents in New Zealand ahead of publication and said it also contacted Stokes himself, who it said did not seek to prevent publication.
It said the tragedy was a matter of public record and extensively reported in New Zealand at the time.
But the paper has now agreed to pay the Stokes family substantial damages for breach of privacy.
Paul Lunt, solicitor to Ben and Deborah Stokes and head of litigation at Brabners LLP, said: “I am able to confirm that our clients, Ben Stokes and his mother, Deborah Stokes, have reached a settlement of their High Court claim against The Sun for breach of privacy arising out of a front-page article published on 17th September 2019.
“The Sun has apologised to Ben and Deborah. The paper has accepted that the article ought never to have seen the light of day. The apology to our clients acknowledges the great distress caused to Ben, Deborah and their family by what was a gross intrusion – and exploitation – of their privacy.
“Substantial damages have also been paid, as well as payment of legal costs.”
Deborah Stokes said: “The decision to publish this article was a decision to expose, and to profit from exposing, intensely private and painful matters within our family. The suffering caused to our family by the publication of this article is something we cannot forgive.
“Ben and I can take no pleasure in concluding this settlement with The Sun. We can only hope that our actions in holding the paper to account will leave a lasting mark, and one that will contribute to prevent other families from having to suffer the same pain as was inflicted on our family by this article.”
The Sun said: “On 17 September 2019 we published a story titled, ‘Tragedy that Haunts Stokes’ Family’ which described a tragic incident that had occurred to Deborah Stokes, the mother of Ben Stokes, in New Zealand in 1988.
“The article caused great distress to the Stokes family, and especially to Deborah Stokes.
“We should not have published the article. We apologise to Deborah and Ben Stokes. We have agreed to pay them damages and their legal costs.”