The Sun has 'heaped shame' on journalism - Yorkshire Post editor

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The Sun

Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson has accused The Sun of “heaping shame” on journalism by running a controversial front page story about the family of cricketer Ben Stokes.

Yesterday, the England vice captain castigated the paper for “low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism” after it splashed on the story about the shooting of his half-brother and half-sister in New Zealand more than 30 years ago

And Mitchinson, who is also currently serving as interim editor of the Yorkshire Evening Post, took to Twitter to criticise the tabloid.

“It is decisions like these by editors unlike me that heap shame upon our profession,” he wrote. “It kills the trust we work so hard to build. It gives every journalist a bad name and legitimises those who seek to discredit the Fourth Estate. I am sorry you have been treated this way, Ben.”

In a subsequent tweet he added:  “Way to treat a national sporting hero, folks. Well done.”

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Mitchinson later wrote an editor's comment on the issue.

"I cannot for the life of me understand how any editor, any individual, could countenance what they did today and come to the conclusion that it was a right and proper thing to do," he wrote. "It wasn’t, and I don’t care how they dress up their excuses for having done so."

Stokes, who was born in New Zealand and moved to the Cumbrian town of Cockermouth with his family as a child, released a statement on Tuesday expressing his hurt about the story: “Today The Sun has seen fit to publish extremely painful, sensitive and personal details concerning events in the private lives of my family, going back more than 31 years.

“It is hard to find words that adequately describe such low and despicable behaviour, disguised as journalism. I cannot conceive of anything more immoral, heartless or contemptuous to the feelings and circumstances of my family.

“To use my name as an excuse to shatter the privacy and private lives of – in particular – my parents is utterly disgusting. I am aware that my public profile brings with it consequences for me that I accept entirely. But I will not allow my public profile to be used as an excuse to invade the rights of my parents, my wife, my children or other family members.

“They are entitled to a private life of their own. The decision to publish these details has grave and lifelong consequences for my mum in particular.”

A Sun spokesperson said: “The Sun has the utmost sympathy for Ben Stokes and his mother but it is only right to point out the story was told with the co-operation of a family member who supplied details, provided photographs and posed for pictures. The tragedy is also a matter of public record and was the subject of extensive front page publicity in New Zealand at the time.

“The Sun has huge admiration for Ben Stokes and we were delighted to celebrate his sporting heroics this summer. He was contacted prior to publication and at no stage did he or his representatives ask us not to publish the story.”

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