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Summary

  1. High-profile rape case involving two Ulster rugby players reaches its conclusion
  2. Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were both acquitted of rape. Mr Jackson was also acquitted of sexual assault
  3. Two other men were also charged in connection with the case
  4. Blane McIlroy was acquitted of exposure
  5. Rory Harrison was acquitted of perverting the course of justice and withholding information
  6. The jury of 11 people reached its verdict in the ninth week of the trial

Live Reporting

All times stated are UK

  1. 'Most difficult trial'

    That concludes our live coverage of the verdict in the rape trial involving two Irish and Ulster rugby players. It was, said the judge, "probably the most difficult trial that any jury in Northern Ireland has ever been asked to adjudicate on".

    Thank you for joining us. Good evening.

  2. Police have seen rise 'in reports of rape offences'

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    Video caption: Det Ch Supt Paula Hilman speaks to the media
  3. Case 'has increased dialogue around sexual violence'

    Nexus NI, which counsels victims of sexual abuse, said it respects the verdict in the trial "which has brought to light the complex nature of sexually violent crime, and consent in particular".

    Laganside courts

    "This difficult case has increased dialogue around sexual violence; we now need to ensure these conversations continue and that the necessary support is provided to victims," Cara Cash of Nexus said.

  4. Police investigation defended

    PSNI Det Ch Supt Paula Hilman defended the police investigation of the allegations.

    Det Ch Supt Paula Hillman

    "I am satisfied that this was a very thorough investigation carried out with professionalism and integrity," she said. Read the full story here.

  5. Complainant 'upset and disappointed'

    The senior investigating officer in the case, Det Ch Insp Zoe McKee, said she had spoken to the complainant after the verdicts: "Understandably she is upset and disappointed with the outcome."

    Det Ch Insp Zoe McKee
    Image caption: Det Ch Insp Zoe McKee, said she had spoken to the complainant after the verdicts

    She added: "It was thoroughly and robustly investigated. We pursued all lines of investigative inquiry, we brought all of the evidence together, we worked in close collaboration with the Public Prosecution Service from the start."

  6. Any breach of the entitlement of anonymity 'is and will be investigated' - PSNI

    Det Ch Supt Paula Hilman: "We have faith and trust in the legal system and respect the verdict.

    "I would like to pay tribute to the young woman who had the resolve and confidence to come forward and put her faith in police and the criminal justice process.

    PAULA HILLMAN

    "In addition to this, she was named on social media sites during the trial contrary to her legal entitlement. Any breach of this entitlement is and will be investigated."

  7. PPS 'recognises the courage and determination of the complainant'

    Marianne O'Kane from the PPS acknowledged "the dedicated service of the jury over the last nine weeks".

    She extended her appreciation to the judge and recognised the "commitment" of the prosecution team.

    Marianne O'Kane

    She paid tribute to the work of the PSNI in this "complex case".

    "Most importantly, I want to take a moment to recognise the courage and determination of the complainant and her family throughout these proceedings," she added.

  8. Evidence was carefully examined - PPS

    The PPS statement added: "The evidence received in this case was subjected to a very thorough and careful examination by a team of experienced lawyers including senior counsel, before we concluded that the test for prosecution was met, in line with our code for prosecutors.

    court

    "This meant that there was both sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction and it was in the public interest to prosecute."

  9. PPS defends decision to bring case

    In a statement following the acquittals, Marianne O'Kane, assistant director of the Public Prosecution Service's Serious Crime Unit, said: "This case was properly brought before the courts and overcame a number of legal challenges.

    Laganside

    "It was ultimately right that the matter was placed before a jury to make their determination."

  10. 'Not the real Stuart Olding'

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    Video caption: Stuart Olding's lawyer Paul Dougan reads out a statement from his client
  11. Stuart Olding: 'Though I committed no crime I regret deeply the events of the evening'

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    Video caption: Stuart Olding's lawyer Paul Dougan reads out a statement from his client
  12. Never my intention to hurt anyone: Olding

    In his statement, Mr Olding said he wanted to acknowledge "that the complainant came to court and gave evidence about her perception of those events".

    Stuart Olding and Paul Dougan

    "I am sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant. It was never my intention to hurt anyone on that night," he said.

  13. Jackson's solicitor condemns 'toxic content' on social media

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    Video caption: Jackson's solicitor condemns 'toxic content' on social media
  14. Jackson thanks judge and jury

    Speaking outside Belfast Crown Court after his acquittal, Paddy Jackson said: "I'd just like to thank the judge and the jury for giving me a fair trial, my parents for being here every day, as well as my brother and sisters."

    Paddy Jackson

    Jackson also thanked his barristers and solicitors, before adding: "Out of respect for my employers, I've nothing further to comment."

  15. 'Vile' social media commentary 'polluted' public discourse

    Paddy Jackson's solicitor says that during the trial "vile commentary expressed on social media, going well beyond fair comment, has polluted the sphere of public discourse and raised real concerns about the integrity of the trial process".

    Joe McVeigh

    Joe McVeigh added: "All the lawyers have been distracted by having to man the barriers against a flood of misinformed, misconceived and malicious content on the internet particularly during the last phase of this trial and, worryingly, even at the hands of public servants who should have known better."

  16. Paddy Jackson thanks jury, legal team and family

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    Video caption: Paddy Jackson thanks jury, family and friends
  17. Jackson solicitor critical of police investigation

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    Video caption: Jackson solicitor critical of police investigation
  18. Jackson priority 'to get back on rugby pitch'

    Paddy Jackson's solicitor Joe McVeigh said that his client and his parents have paid "a heavy price personally, professionally and financially".

    Paddy Jackson

    "His main priority right now is to return to his work and that means getting back on to the rugby pitch representing his province and his country."

  19. Who is Stuart Olding?

    Also accused and cleared of rape was Paddy Jackson's Ulster colleague Stuart Olding, who has played four times for Ireland.

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    Video caption: Who is Stuart Olding?