BEN STOKES has undoubtedly been the sporting star of the British summer, appearing on the front and back pages of national and local newspapers for his cricketing exploits.

The Durham and England player has been tipped for a knighthood, and is said to be almost certain to become the BBC’s 2019 Sports Personality of the Year. Stokes is no stranger to bad publicity as well, having had a highly-publicised street brawl in Bristol. This week, though, saw him on the front page of The Sun for reasons not of his own making, as the newspaper reported a family tragedy which took place before Stokes was even born. Writing on social media, He described the decision to publish the article as heartless, and the wider reaction has been almost universal in its condemnation of The Sun.

Since the phone hacking scandal caused by national tabloid reporters exploded into an industry-wide review of journalistic practices, local newspapers – largely staffed by people living and working in their own community – have also felt the consequences. We have been tainted by association, and the publication of the Stokes story sets us all back once more.

Our free press is vital in holding power to account, and must not be shackled by further regulation, or legislation. However with freedom comes responsibility, and this means considering the ethics of whether or not to publish. The consequences of this article could only ever be huge distress for the Stokes family, and yet more debate about press restriction, which will have the powerful rubbing their hands in glee.