Paddy Jackson apologises, admits criticism of behaviour fully justified

Paddy Jackson has been cleared of rape. PAUL FAITH/AFP/Getty Images

Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson admitted he was ashamed as he apologised for his behaviour that led to him facing rape charges, which he was cleared of last week.

Jackson and provincial teammate Stuart Olding were cleared after an eight-week trial, but both players remain "relieved of all duties" while a joint Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby internal review into the matter is carried out.

Fellow Ulster player Craig Gilroy is also subject to an internal review due to a WhatsApp message he sent, which was used in the trial and Gilroy was stood down from the team's PRO14 clash this weekend as a result.

With a doubt now hanging over his playing future in Ireland, Jackson issued a statement apologising for being part of a degrading and offensive WhatsApp group and acknowledged that the criticism of his behaviour had been justified.

"I am ashamed that a young woman who was a visitor to my home left in a distressed state," Jackson said in a statement to the Press Association. "This was never my intention and I will always regret the events of that evening.

"I am also truly sorry for engaging in a WhatsApp group chat which was degrading and offensive and I apologise unreservedly for this. The criticism of my behaviour is fully justified and I know I have betrayed the values of my family and those of the wider public.

"Following the trial I have taken time to reflect with my family on the values that were such an integral part of my upbringing, the most important of which is respect. My departure from these values has caused understandable public anger and I am resolutely committed to returning to those principles."