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By Adam Ellis
Ulster duo Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been cleared of raping a woman at a Belfast home in June 2016 after a jury returned not guilty verdicts.
Jackson, Olding and two of their associates were all acquitted of their respective charges after a nine-week trial at Belfast Crown Court.
Blane McIlroy was found not guilty of exposure and Rory Harrison was passed a verdict of not guilty for a charge of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
Outside court, Jackson’s solicitor, Joe McVeigh, addressed the media with the following statement: “It’s our belief that the investigation has been characterised by the turning of a blind eye to inadequacies in the evidence of the complainant combined with the very apparent investigative bias,” McVeigh said.
“The prosecution made much of a perceived privileged position provided by virtue of Paddy being an international rugby player.
“We say that it was this very status as a famous sportsman that drove the decision to prosecute in the first place.”
The IRFU and Ulster confirmed that fly-half Jackson and centre Olding will ‘continue to be relieved of all duties’ until the completion of a review, thus making them unavailable for selection.
26-year-old Jackson last played for Ireland in their Tests against Japan in June 2017.
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