Ben Stokes found not guilty of affray
Stokes in England squad for third Test against India; All-rounder keen cricket becomes "his sole focus" following the end of his trial
Last Updated: 14/08/18 3:43pm
England all-rounder Ben Stokes has been found not guilty of affray following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub.
Stokes' fellow defendant Ryan Ali has also been found not guilty.
The cricketer told Bristol Crown Court he had been acting in self-defence and was defending two gay men when the incident occurred on September 25 last year.
The jury took under three hours to acquit both men, following a seven-day trial.
A third man, Ryan Hale, 27, was acquitted of the charge last Thursday on the directions of the judge, Peter Blair QC.
Stokes' career had been on hold during the court proceedings, but after the verdict the England and Wales Cricket board (ECB) confirmed he will be included in the squad for the third Test against India at Trent Bridge.
The ECB also confirmed the Durham all-rounder will now face a disciplinary case which had been on hold pending the conclusion of the trial.
Team-mate Alex Hales, who was present outside the nightclub but never charged, will face the same disciplinary hearing.
Outside court, Stokes' solicitor Paul Lunt said his client is ready to focus on resuming his international career.
"Today's verdict represents the end of an 11-month ordeal for Ben during which time he has had to maintain his silence at times when many on social media and in certain parts of the press have predetermined his guilt long before the trial began," Lunt said.
"The steps that he took were solely aimed at ensuring the safety of himself and the others present.
"In addition to the extreme stress placed on Ben and his family by the trial, the intervention that night has also cost Ben the England vice-captaincy, his place on an Ashes tour and his place in a number of other England matches.
"The past 11 months have served to highlight to Ben just how highly he values his position as an England representative, both in terms of the privilege that role entails and the responsibilities that accompany it.
"Now that the trial is over, Ben is keen to get back to cricket being his sole focus."
Avon and Somerset Police says it respects the jury's decision to acquit Ben Stokes, Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale.
A spokesman said: "We carried out a thorough independent investigation into the events of September 25 before passing a comprehensive file of evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service which subsequently made the decision to charge.
"Having reviewed the evidence, the jury has concluded the actions of the defendants did not amount to affray and we respect this decision."