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Friday 14 December 2018

Jackson in court bid to recover legal costs of more than €115k

Paddy Jackson was acquitted of rape and sexual assault
Paddy Jackson was acquitted of rape and sexual assault

An application to cover Paddy Jackson's legal fees is due to be heard in Belfast Crown Court next month, it has emerged.

Mr Jackson (26) was acquitted of rape and sexual assault last month following a mammoth nine-week trial. Three other co-defendants - including Mr Jackson's Ireland and Ulster Rugby team-mate Stuart Olding (25) - were also acquitted on charges they faced arising from an incident in Mr Jackson's south Belfast bedroom in June 2016.

It is understood that Mr Jackson privately funded his defence, and his legal bill amounted to more than €115,000, which he has already settled.

Costs

However, he is seeking to retrieve this money and has made an application in an attempt to have the costs covered by the Public Prosecution Service.

A hearing in a bid to cover the legal costs has been scheduled in Belfast at 2pm on Friday, May 18.

Mr Olding had been covering his own legal costs at the start of the trial.

However, halfway through the trial his barrister asked that he be granted legal aid for the remainder of the hearing, as he no longer had sufficient funds to cover the costs.

After she asked to be provided with evidence of this - such as bank statements - Judge Patricia Smyth granted legal aid for Mr Olding.

Meanwhile, organisers of a planned protest outside the home of Ulster Rugby tonight have released details of the event, which coincides with the team's first home game since the verdict in the high-profile trial.

Members of the Belfast Feminist Network have organised a protest at the Mount Merrion entrance to the Kingspan ground at 7pm, as fans are entering the stadium for the match against the Ospreys.

The group has helped organise a number of protests since Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were found not guilty.

The protesters say they have been liaising with police to ensure the protest is lawful and well ordered.

Belfast Feminist Network said it was part of "a movement to change how our criminal justice system deals with sexual assault crimes".

Last week, 139 people took out a crowdfunded newspaper advert to demand Mr Jackson and Mr Olding never play rugby for Ulster or Ireland again.

The advert described the content of social media exchanges involving the pair as "reprehensible". However, an advert in Wednesday's Belfast Telegraph, paid for by fans of Ulster Rugby, called on the club to reinstate the two players to the squad.

The full-page advert, funded by more than 100 supporters, described "the social media backlash" against the men as "cyber prosecution".

The pair remain suspended from playing while Ulster Rugby carry out an internal investigation into the sexist language used by the players in a series of WhatsApp messages sent in the aftermath of a party at Mr Jackson's house in 2016.

Review

No decision has been announced on the outcome of an internal review by the IRFU and Ulster Rugby on the playing future of Mr Jackson and Mr Olding.

It is understood that the club's major sponsor, Bank of Ireland, is awaiting the results of the high-profile review.

In a statement, Bank of Ireland said it has relayed its concerns to Ulster Rugby regarding what it calls "the serious behaviour and conduct issues which have emerged as a result of the recent high-profile trial".

On Wednesday, reporting restrictions on the trial were lifted and it was revealed that jurors were unaware there were photographs of additional blood on the sheets of Mr Jackson's bed. His barrister, Brendan Kelly QC, said he had "no intention of saying where this blood came from".

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