England cricketer Ben Stokes charged with affray after nightclub incident
England cricketer Ben Stokes has been charged with affray after a fight outside a Bristol nightclub, the Crown Prosecution Service said.
The 26-year-old Durham all-rounder - who missed the Ashes after being suspended from playing for England after the incident - is accused of affray alongside two other men.
It follows a fight in the Clifton Triangle area of Bristol during the early hours of September 25 - several hours after England had played a match in the city.
It is alleged a 27-year-old man suffered a fractured eye socket in the incident, in which fellow England cricketer Alex Hales was present.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Stokes would be appearing at Bristol Magistrates' Court on a date to be fixed.
"The CPS was passed a file of evidence by Avon and Somerset Police on November 29 2017 in relation to an incident of disorder in Bristol city centre," a CPS spokesman said.
"Further material was subsequently received in late December.
"Following a review of all the available evidence, the CPS has today authorised the police to charge three men with affray in connection with the incident.
"Ben Stokes, 26, Ryan Ali, 28, and Ryan Hale, 26, are all due to appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court on a date to be fixed in relation to this charge."
The statement added: "The CPS reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings are now live and the defendants have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice ongoing proceedings."
The charge of affray is made under the Public Order Act 1986 and effectively relates to fighting in public.
It is an triable either-way offence which means it can be heard in either the magistrates' court or the crown court.
It carries a maximum penalty when tried summarily - in the magistrates court - of a fine or up to six months in prison and when tried on indictment - in the crown court - of up to three years in prison.
Without Stokes England lost the Ashes to Australia 4-0.
While England were in Australia Stokes played a few games for Canterbury Kings during a moth-long spell in New Zealand before returning home to England.
His next cricket assignment may be a multi-million pound return to the Indian Premier League after his England employers indicated he will be free to do so if he wishes.
The all-rounder landed himself a Â£1.7 million deal and starring role with Rising Pune Supergiant last year.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Stokes said: "I want to thank all those who have continued to support me in relation to the Bristol incident, not least my family, friends, fans and teammates.
"I gave a full and detailed account of my actions to the police on day one - the same day as the incident - and have co-operated at each step of the police inquiry.
"I am keen to have an opportunity to clear my name but, on advice, the appropriate time to do this is when the case comes to trial.
"The CPS' decision to charge me, as well as Ryan Ali and Ryan Hale, at least means that my account of what happened that night can come out in court and be made public. Until then, my focus is very much on cricket.