IRELAND and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding issued the following statement via his solicitor after he was acquitted of rape in Belfast this afternoon.
“I want to start by thanking the judge and the jury for their time and patience throughout this long trial.
"I am very relieved that the jury has accepted my explanation as to what occurred.
"I want to acknowledge publicly that although I committed no criminal offence on the evening of June 28, 2016, I regret deeply the events of that evening.
"I want to acknowledge that the complainant came to court and gave evidence about her perception of those events.
"I’m sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant. It was never my intention to cause any upset to anyone on that night.
"I don’t agree with her perception of events and I maintain that everything that happen that evening was consensual.
"I have consistently told the truth to the police and the court when asked to account for my conduct.
"The Stuart Olding that has been portrayed over the past nine weeks in this trial is not the real Stuart Olding.
"I’m fiercely proud to represent my province and my country. I have worked very hard to achieve those goals.
"I hope to be able to prove myself going forward in all aspects of my life.
"I would like to thank my legal team for their hard work and their belief in my throughout and finally to my family: thank you all for standing by me from the beginning.”