English 'not speaking' to NZ sex police - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

English 'not speaking' to NZ sex police

20/06/2008 12:18:41 PM Comments (0)

Members of the English rugby team are refusing to speak to police investigating allegations of a serious sexual assault in Auckland.

In a statement the team management said all of the players sought by police for interview had received legal advice not to speak to the officers.

No formal complaint has yet been made to police, but the allegation - that a woman was sexually assaulted or raped - is being treated as serious.

"The England rugby squad can confirm that a request was made by the Auckland police for certain playing members of the squad to voluntarily attend a meeting with Christchurch police in order to speak to officers concerning the allegations presently under investigation," the team statement said.

"Those players have each received legal advice from lawyers engaged to independently consider their interests.

"In the absence of any formal complaint in this matter the players were advised to decline the request made to them to voluntarily attend upon the Police and they are fully within their rights to do so.

"The players continue to deny the allegations and have the full support of the England management, coaches and players," the statement said.

Auckland police flew to Christchurch on Thursday in the hope of speaking with the four players allegedly connected to the assault claims.

It is understood the boyfriend of the 18-year-old woman at the centre of the allegations contacted police after she returned from Auckland's Hilton Hotel, where an assault allegedly took place following a post-match heavy drinking session in central Auckland on Saturday night.

The English squad's management also said they were continuing to have "positive dialogue" with the Auckland police and thanked them for understanding during a series of meetings with the legal representatives.

They said they understood the frustration felt by the public and the media regarding the lack of information they could provide, but that in the context of an ongoing police investigation it was difficult for all concerned.

Auckland City police communications manager Noreen Hegarty said the investigation would continue as "thoroughly as possible" before the file was reviewed.

"Any decision about where to take matters from there will depend on the outcome of that review."

A formal complaint could be made at any time in the future.

The allegations have made headlines in the British media, with concerns the sordid nature of the claims would ensure they overshadow anything that happens on the pitch during the team's two-match tour against the All Blacks.

A day after getting the full tabloid treatment in England's Sun newspaper, the more serious broadsheets the Times and the Daily Telegraph on Friday both weighed in on the allegations.

The Daily Telegraph reported police were "increasingly frustrated" by what they saw as the England camp's hindering their access into the rape claims.

Officers had also hit back at perceived efforts to downplay the allegations.

The newspaper said the players were accompanied to the hotel by several young women, including the 18-year-old, who went back to the room of one of the players.

According to one report, she had consensual sex with the player before another squad member came in from an adjoining room.

Sources within English rugby have claimed the girl also had consensual sex with the second man, which was witnessed in part by two other players.

The teenager then returned home, where her boyfriend later contacted police and made an allegation of rape.

The men all maintain the sexual activity was consensual.

The Times said England had appointed one of New Zealand's leading barristers to defend the players should the alleged victim decide to make a formal complaint.

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