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27th Jun, 2022

Former Worcestershire cricketer's 'shame' over vulgar WhatsApp group

Rob George 24th May, 2022

FORMER Worcestershire cricketer Joe Clarke said he feels ‘embarrassment and shame’ over his involvement in a vulgar WhatsApp group with convicted rapist Alex Hepburn.

Hepburn was found guilty of rape in April 2019 and jailed for five years after assaulting the woman after she had consensual sex with Clarke

During the trial at Worcester Crown Court, it was revealed how Clarke and former team-mate Tom Kohler-Cadmore, along with Hepburn, would use the social media app to take part in a ‘game’ to collect as many sexual conquests as possible.

Neither Clarke nor Kohler-Cadmore was charged with any criminal offence and there is no suggestion of any criminal wrongdoing by the pair.

The sexist messages led to Clarke, 25, being made unavailable for selection by England and charged with bringing the game into disrepute. Both he and Kohler-Cadmore were also fined £2,000 by the independent Cricket Discipline Commission in 2019.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph in his first interview since being named during the Hepburn trial, Clarke apologised for his involvement in ‘what was a terrible thing’.

“It does not reflect the person I am now,” Clarke told the Telegraph.

“I have done a lot of reflecting. It is embarrassment and shame that I was involved in what was a terrible thing.

“I’m happy I have the chance now and say how sorry I am for the involvement in all of it.”

The interview has sparked a heated debate with many questioning the timing of Clarke’s comments – last month England’s new director of men’s cricket Rob Key suggested he would be open to Clarke being picked.

One of the country’s leading cricket writers Elizabeth Ammon said it was ‘good’ Clarke has spoken but expressed her wish the batter had spoken with a female journalist.

Writing on Twitter she said: “I wish he’d done it (the interview) with a woman journalist who could have explained why what he did affects all women.”

A number also expressed their solidarity with the young woman raped by Hepburn who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following the attack.

Clarke said the messages were ‘terrible to look at’ and the WhatsApp ‘game’ was, in his words, completely wrong.

“She was ultimately in my company and relied on me for her safety and I did not provide that,” Clarke said.

“I feel like I let her down and I hope she has found happiness she deserves now and has managed to move on.”

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