The Sun have apologised and paid substantial damages to the family of Cumbrian cricket star Ben Stokes over the publication of an insensitive article.

The national newspaper have admitted that a front page story, published in 2019, had "caused great distress" to the Stokes family, particularly Ben's mum Deb.

They have conceded that they should not have published the article, which concerned a tragic family incident that took place in 1988.

The Sun's decision to run the story was condemned as "immoral and heartless" and "the lowest form of journalism" by the England cricketer at the time.

The paper in 2019 had defended its decision, claiming "the tragedy [was already] a matter of public record", that the article included an on-the-record interview with a member of the family, and that they had approached Ben for a comment before publication.

But two years later they confirmed they had apologised and agreed a settlement with the Stokes family.

Times and Star: The Sun's apology to the Stokes familyThe Sun's apology to the Stokes family

In a statement in their newspaper and which was published on their website at 11.45pm last night, The Sun said: "On 17 September 2019 we published a story titled, ‘Tragedy that Haunts Stokes’ Family’ which described a tragic incident that had occurred to Deborah Stokes, the mother of Ben Stokes, in New Zealand in 1988.

"The article caused great distress to the Stokes family, and especially to Deborah Stokes.

"We should not have published the article. We apologise to Deborah and Ben Stokes. We have agreed to pay them damages and their legal costs."

Deb Stokes, speaking via the website of law firm Brabners who represented the Stokes family in the High Court claim, said they took legal action against The Sun to help other families being put through the same distress in future.

She said: “The decision to publish this article was a decision to expose, and to profit from exposing, intensely private and painful matters within our family. The suffering caused to our family by the publication of this article is something we cannot forgive.

“Ben and I can take no pleasure in concluding this settlement with The Sun. We can only hope that our actions in holding the paper to account will leave a lasting mark, and one that will contribute to prevent other families from having to suffer the same pain as was inflicted on our family by this article.”

Paul Lunt, solicitor to Ben and Deborah Stokes and head of litigation at Brabners, added: “The Sun has apologised to Ben and Deborah. The paper has accepted that the article ought never to have seen the light of day.

"The apology to our clients acknowledges the great distress caused to Ben, Deborah and their family by what was a gross intrusion - and exploitation - of their privacy.

“Substantial damages have also been paid, as well as payment of legal costs."

Ben Stokes, who grew up in Cockermouth, is currently taking time out from cricket to focus on his "mental well-being".