London Irish heavily criticised over decision to sign Paddy Jackson
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London Irish heavily criticised over decision to sign Paddy Jackson

THE BELFAST Feminist Network (BFN) has condemned London Irish’s decision to sign Paddy Jackson from French side Perpignan.

Jackson, 27, joined the newly-promoted club ahead of the 2019/20 Premiership season.

It comes just over a year after Jackson's IRFU and Ulster Rugby contracts were terminated in the wake of being found not guilty of rape at a trial in Belfast.

Jackson's former Ulster teammate Stuart Olding was also acquitted, but the pair were sacked over controversial text messages revealed in court.

The announcement of Jackson's arrival at London Irish has received a mixed response online.

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While some fans have been quick to wish Jackson the best of luck with his new team, the move has also been met with strong criticism.

The BFN is among those to respond, issuing a strongly-worded statement on Facebook hitting out at London Irish over the signing of Jackson.

"Many of us who opposed his return to Ulster in April 2018 continue to oppose his return to a team in the UK particularly one that represents the Irish community living in London," it reads.

"Irish women rose up in their thousands following the trial of Jackson and his team-mate for rape. While the courts did not convict him, the undisputed evidence of rank misogyny and the details of a sexual encounter that left a young woman weeping and bleeding on the back seat of a taxi shook the whole country.

Paddy Jackson leaving court in 2018.
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"We did not believe then that Jackson and his co-accused Olding should represent our community and our country in a sport that places considerable trust in its elite players as role models. We still do not believe that Jackson should represent our community with London Irish and we condemn the club for the decision they have announced today."