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England cricketer arrested in brawl ‘was defending gay friends from attackers’

By Will Stroude

Ben Stokes, the England cricketer arrested this week after video footage emerged which allegedly showed him in a violent brawl, was defending two gay friends from homophobic abuse at the time, it has been claimed. 26-year-old Stokes, who will not be considered by England for international cricket until further notice following the incident near a Bristol nightclub in the early hours of Monday (September 25), was said to be “devastated and fragile” after being arrested on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm. A 27-year-old man was left needing hospital treatment for facial injuries following the fight outside Bristol’s Mbbargo nightclub, where all-rounder Stokes and his teammate Alex Hales had been celebrated England’s win over the West Indies in their third one-day international earlier that day. In a new twist, broadcaster Piers Morgan claimed on Thursday that Stokes – who suffered a minor finger fracture on his right hand during the incident – became embroiled in the fight after intervening to help two gay men who were being abused by a group of men, one of whom was armed with a bottle.

The Good Morning Britain presenter tweeted that Stokes told friends “he was incensed by the homophobic taunts, then saw the bottle being raised & decided to defend himself.” Morgan added: “Stokes obviously regrets what happened but apparently his view is: ‘They started it, I finished it. I was protecting those guys.'” Stokes also reportedly told friends: “‘The guy had a bottle in his hand & was threatening us, was I supposed to wait until he smashed it in my face?'”

Meanwhile, a friend of Stokes told MailOnline: “Ben can’t stand homophobia and being the hot-headed ginger he has stepped in. “The next thing they knew, one of the men grabbed a bottle and went for them.” A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police said: “The disorder which occurred on Queens Road, Clifton, at around 2.35am on Monday continues to be investigated by officers. “A 26-year-old man was arrested in connection with the incident and was later released under investigation. “Anyone who has not yet spoken to police who witnessed any part of the incident, or who captured any footage of it, is asked to call Investigations on 101 providing the call handler with the reference number 5217218578.”