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Rory Harrison is charged with withholding information in the case and perverting the course of justice, he denies the charge

A friend of two Ulster rugby players accused of rape has denied agreeing to “look after” the alleged victim.

Rory Harrison, 25, of Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information in the case.

Under cross-examination, Mr Harrison rejected suggestions he took the woman home on the night in question to protect his friends.

A prosecution barrister asked him if he was told “to go and look after her”.

“No, I was not,” replied Mr Harrison.

‘Loyalty to friends’

Paddy Jackson and fellow rugby player Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman in Mr Jackson’s house, in the early hours of 28 June 2016.

On Monday, evidence called by the defence in the long-running case concluded.

The jury was told that the trial would now move to the next stage.

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There will be no sitting of the trial in front of the jury on Tuesday. It will resume on Wednesday.

Concluding his cross-examination of Mr Harrison, the prosecution barrister put it to him: “Regrettably, however good an upbringing you have had, or good a family you have undoubtedly come from, sadly you have put loyalty to your friends first.”

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Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison deny all charges against them

Mr Harrison replied: “No. I disagree with you.”

Mr Harrison was treated initially as a witness rather than a suspect in the case. He gave a police statement two days after the alleged attack.

Earlier in Monday’s hearing, he was asked if he heard the woman say upstairs in Mr Jackson’s house: “How often must a girl say ‘no’ before it sinks in?”

He said he did not hear her say that.

In total, four men have been charged in connection with the case.

Mr Jackson, 26, from Belfast’s Oakleigh Park, is charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual assault. He denies the charges.

Mr Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is also charged with rape. He too denies the charge.

Blane McIlroy, 26, of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, is charged with one count of exposure. He denies the charge.

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