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Face-grab photos are ‘nonsense’, says Ben Stokes’s wife

The wife of the cricketer Ben Stokes has dismissed allegations of a physical altercation between the couple at an awards ceremony.

Pictures have emerged of Stokes and his wife, Clare, appearing to be embroiled in a confrontation during a Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA) prizegiving at the Roundhouse in Camden, north London.

All-rounder Stokes was player of the final when England won the men’s Cricket World Cup for the first time in July, before a remarkable unbeaten century at Headingley lit up the drawn Ashes series with Australia later in the summer.

The 28-year-old Durham player was honoured for his heroics by being awarded the PCA Player of the Year Award at a gala dinner at the Roundhouse on 3 October.

But on Tuesday, a series of images was published on the Guido Fawkes website of what appeared to be an altercation between the couple. In one image, Stokes appeared to have put his left hand on the side of his wife’s face.

Clare Stokes swiftly defended her husband in a Twitter post, which included a photo of her “squishing up” the cricketer’s face as a sign of affection as well as one of them together at the awards night. She claimed a “pap” was trying to twist it into a “crazy story”.

“Unbelievable what nonsense these people will make up!” she said on Twitter. “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!” Stokes retweeted the post.

Ben Stokes
(@benstokes38)

😘 https://t.co/TFVFK1Vknn

October 8, 2019

Stokes later gave a statement to the Daily Mirror in which he labelled the allegations “totally irresponsible” and paid tribute to the “wonderful relationship” he and his wife enjoy.

He said: “I have 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 … For it to be toyed with for cheap headlines in this way just damages the cause of those who are abused.

“Clare is a strong, independent woman who can speak for herself. We have a wonderful relationship and I never tire of saying how lucky I am to be with her. We both had a great night at the PCA Awards, ending with us dining out at McDonald’s together.

“To falsify and spread these kind of allegations so willingly is totally irresponsible. The way that this has come across is so far removed from what it was.

“It was a stressful 45 minutes for us when we found out, but we wanted to address it as quickly as we could.”

The awards were organised by the PCA in association with the England Wales Cricket Board.

Stokes lifted the Reg Hayter Cup as the NatWest PCA Players’ Player of the Year. Afterwards he said: “You can take a lot of personal pride when you receive this award because it’s your peers that vote for you. Earning this award is a huge moment and something I am very gracious of.”

After the awards ceremony Stokes and his wife, a primary school teacher, visited a McDonald’s on the way back to their hotel in south-west London.

The England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive, Tom Harrison, said: “We have spoken with both Clare and Ben – as well as others in attendance – who have all clarified the innocent context behind the still photographs taken at last week’s PCA awards.”

He added: “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.”

Stokes is the favourite to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year.

The cricketer was arrested in Bristol in the early hours of 25 September 2017 after a night out with England teammates to celebrate victory over the West Indies in an international match earlier in the day.

During a trial at Bristol crown court, the incident was described as “a sustained episode of significant violence” from Stokes, who had “lost control”.

Stokes told the jury he had “stepped in” to defend two gay men who were being verbally abused, but then had to defend himself from two men, who were threatening violence. He was found not guilty of affray.

Last month Stokes described a front-page article in the Sun newspaper about a family tragedy 31 years ago as “disgusting” and “immoral”.

In a statement on Twitter, Stokes said the paper’s decision to publish the story would have “grave and lifelong consequences” for his mother in particular.

The article described events in New Zealand 31 years ago, before he was born, when his mother’s ex-husband killed their two children before taking his own life.

In his statement, Stokes said his own public profile was not an excuse to “invade” the rights and privacy of his family members.