Football rape case girl 'consented to sex'

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Police investigating allegations that a 17-year-old girl was raped by a group of footballers are to question a new witness who claims the teenager consented to sex and lied about details of the incident.

Nicholas Meikle, who says he is friends with Premiership players, says he and three other men had sex with the 17-year-old at a hotel in London.

But Mr Meikle says the teenager was a willing participant and stayed overnight and for breakfast with the men.

The girl has strongly denied Mr Meikle's story. She claims she consented to sex with one player but was raped by three or four more, while a further three or four watched.

The case has provoked a media frenzy and led to speculation about the identity of the suspects. Two Sunday newspapers named an England international who has been linked to the allegations. The player denies involvement and is reported to have been with another woman at the time of the alleged assault 10 days ago.

Mr Meikle gave the News of the World a detailed account of the alleged assault in Room 316 at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane on 27 September.

He told the newspaper he and three other men, two of them Premiership players, had sex with the girl. But he insisted it was with her full consent. He said: "No one got heavy with her, this was normal."

Mr Meikle said he met the girl in a bar and invited her back to the hotel. He said he had sex with her in his room before one of his friends came into the room and also had sex with her.

He said two Premiership players then arrived and also had sex with the girl. But he said at no time was she raped. "She didn't say no, she didn't push anyone off," he said, adding that group sex was a normal activity among some of his friends.

He said he and his friend fell asleep in his bed with the girl and she did not leave until 2.30pm.

He told the newspaper that things only turned sour when the men gathered in the hotel room for breakfast and began discussing the night while the girl was in the bathroom.

"Looking back, I suspect she could hear bits of conversation and thought it was about her and we were laughing at her," he said. "Even so, when breakfast arrived she stayed to eat."

Max Clifford, the publicity agent representing the teenager, said: "When I spoke to her she was sobbing her heart out, she totally refutes this version.

"She consented to have sex with one person, that is all. She is absolutely devastated."

Mr Clifford said the girl denied having breakfast with the men and denied Mr Meikle's claims that there were only four men involved.

"She is more determined than ever for justice, that is all she wants - justice," he said.

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is considering a complaint against the Daily Sport that claims it deliberately identified one of the footballers. He is also expected to examine whether the News of the World and the Sunday Mirror are guilty of common law contempt - an offence that carries an unlimited fine - for naming an England international player.

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard said that a "very useful witness" had come forward.