The privacy claim against the Sun by cricketer Ben Stokes and his mother, Deborah Stokes, has been settled. The Sun has agreed to pay damages and costs.
The newspaper had also published an apology in the following terms.
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.
In statement published by her solicitors, 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 article told the story of how Stokes’ siblings were murdered in New Zealand in 1988 by his mother’s ex-boyfriend.
A claim form was issued in the Chancery Division on 30 September 2019, with Particulars of Claim being served on 22 January 2020. The Sun served its Defence on 16 April 2020.
The Sun had sought to defend the publication on the basis that the murders had been covered in the New Zealand media in the 1980s and that it featured an on-the-record interview with a member of the Stokes family. These arguments have now been abandoned by the newspaper which has accepted that its publication was wrongful.
We had a post about the case by Peter Coe in September 2019, “Ben Stokes, The Sun and the notion of responsible journalism”