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Ben Stokes must expect 'scrutiny' over behaviour, says domestic abuse charity

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 5 days ago Tom Morgan
  

Ben Stokes looking at the camera: Ben Stokes denies claims he had his wife in a 'choke hold' at an awards ceremony © Reuters Ben Stokes denies claims he had his wife in a 'choke hold' at an awards ceremony Role model Ben Stokes must expect allegations to be “scrutinised” after pictures were taken of him with his arm seemingly raised at his wife, a domestic abuse charity has said. 

The England all-rounder and his wife, Clare, categorically dismissed claims on the Guido Fawkes website that he hit out at her during an alleged confrontation. However, Stokes and the England and Wales Cricket Board – which supports the couple’s explanation – have acknowledged issues of domestic violence must be taken seriously. 

England cricket player Ben Stokes and his wife Clare Ratcliffe leave Bristol Crown Court in Bristol, Britain, August 9, 2018. © Thomson Reuters England cricket player Ben Stokes and his wife Clare Ratcliffe leave Bristol Crown Court in Bristol, Britain, August 9, 2018. On Wednesday, White Ribbon UK, a charity campaigning to end ­violence against women, said: “It is important, when allegations such as these arise, that they are challenged and scrutinised. We expect all sportsmen to understand that they are role models and to act appropriately.” 

Pictures: Facts about England all-rounder Ben Stokes

"It is important, when allegations such as these arise, that they are challenged and scrutinised," a statement sent to Telegraph Sport said. "We expect all sportsmen to understand that they are role models and to act appropriately". The political gossip website published images which it claimed showed Clare was held in a "choke hold and then she either falls back, pulls away or is pushed back by him" at the Professional Cricketers' Association awards last week.

Stokes, a Daily Mirror columnist, told the newspaper he had "become used to people making stuff up about me, but of all the topics not to mess with domestic abuse has to be at the top of the list".

“It’s an incredibly serious issue for thousands of women – and men – who do suffer domestic abuse," he said. “For it to be toyed with for cheap headlines in this way just damages the cause of those who are abused."

England cricket player Ben Stokes and his wife Clare Ratcliffe arrive at Bristol Crown Court, in Bristol, Britain, August 7, 2018. © Reuters England cricket player Ben Stokes and his wife Clare Ratcliffe arrive at Bristol Crown Court, in Bristol, Britain, August 7, 2018.

The couple dismissed the "unbelievable" and "nonsense" claims, saying instead that he was playfully showing affection for her when his arm was raised. The photographer who took the images has since told Telegraph Sport he could not be sure the incident was connected with a row. 

A series of images were taken at around midnight shortly after Stokes had paid glowing tribute to Clare, who turned 30 a few days later, during an acceptance speech for his player of the year award at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London.

Ben Stokes holding a sign: Stokes was named player of the year at the awards ceremony he was attending © Getty images Stokes was named player of the year at the awards ceremony he was attending Less than two hours after the pictures were published, wife Clare wrote, in a message shared by her husband, on Twitter: "Unbelievable what nonsense these people will make up! Me and Ben messing about squishing up each other’s faces cos that’s how we show affection and some pap tries to twist it in to a crazy story! And all before we then have a romantic McDonalds 20 mins later!"

The ECB launched an immediate investigation before Tom Harrison, the governing body's chief executive, said in a statement: ‘’Whilst it is not the case here, we recognise that for the millions who are impacted by domestic violence, this is a very real and serious issue.’’

All-rounder Stokes was the driving force in England's maiden World Cup win as well as the Ashes series draw with Australia. His match-winning performances in the World Cup final and his 135 not out in the third Test at Headingley rank alongside the greatest batting performances in English cricket history.

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