England cricket star Ben Stokes charged after ‘defending two gay men’ in brawl
An England cricketer has been charged with affray after allegedly defending two gay men from attack.
Ben Stokes, 26, was arrested by police on suspicion of actual bodily harm in September.
This followed an incident in the early hours of the morning outside a nightclub in the Clifton area of Bristol.
Stokes was due to travel with the England squad to Australia for the prestigious Ashes series, but missed out after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) suspended him pending any legal developments.
On Twitter, Stokes said the Crown Prosecution Service’s charge was “an opportunity to clear my name”.
“I want to thank all those who have continued to support me in relation to the Bristol incident, not least my family, friends, fans and teammates,” he wrote.
“I gave a full and detailed account of my actions to the police on the day – and have cooperated at each step of the police inquiry.
“I am keen to have an opportunity to clear my name but, on advice, the appropriate time to do this is when the case comes to trial.
“The CPS’ decision to charge me, as well as Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, at least means that my account of what happened that night can come out in court and be made public,” he told fans.
“Until then, my focus is very much on cricket.”
Ali, 28, and Hale, 26, are also both charged with one count of affray.
The ECB said that it would decide in the next two days whether Stokes – who was England’s vice-captain when he was arrested – would now be allowed to play for his country.
A spokesman added: “The ECB is aware that Ben Stokes has been charged with affray in relation to an incident in Bristol in September,” according to The Guardian.
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“The board will now convene within 48 hours to decide on Ben Stokes’ availability for England at this stage.
“A further announcement will be made in due course.”
The CPS said in a statement: “The CPS was passed a file of evidence by Avon & Somerset Police on 29 November, 2017 in relation to an incident of disorder in Bristol city centre.
“Further material was subsequently received in late December.
“Following a review of all the available evidence, the CPS has today authorised the police to charge three men with affray in connection with the incident.”