Man arrested in investigation into girl's rape claims

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The Independent Online

A party organiser who admitted having sex with the 17-year-old girl who said she was gang-raped by a group of Premiership footballers was arrested yesterday.

Nicholas Meikle, 29, from Catford, south London, was questioned by detectives investigating the teenager's claims that she was attacked last month.

The man, from Catford, south London, who works for a public relations company, claims the girl agreed to have sex with him in a hotel room in London. He says she then consented to sex with one of his friends and two Premiership footballers from two different clubs. He said the girl spent the night with him and one of the other men and they all had breakfast together the following morning.

His story was published last Sunday in the News of the World and has been strongly denied by the teenager, a sixth-former at a Catholic school.

Mr Meikle went to a central London police station yesterday where he was arrested. Officers investigating the alleged attack had planned to question suspects in the next few weeks, after they had gathered forensic evidence and questioned witnesses. But the public claims by Mr Meikle caused them to arrest him.

The teenager told police she agreed to have sex with one man and was then attacked by up to seven others, some of whom were allegedly Premiership footballers.

She said the attack was in room 316 at the Grosvenor House Hotel, on Park Lane, London, early on 27 September. She claims three or four men raped her while another three or four watched. Rumours about the identities of the football players allegedly involved have flooded the internet and circulated among fans but the media has not published their names. One newspaper has identified the Premiership club said to be at the centre of the allegation. An England player was named by at least five newspapers as the man who booked the room but he is said to have been with another woman at the time.

Max Clifford, the public relations consultant who is advising the girl and her family, feared the investigation was taking too long and evidence might be lost. "It's with immense relief that things are starting to happen," he said. "They [the family] have been getting increasingly frustrated." Mr Meikle was later released on bail.

Meanwhile, Leeds United footballer Jody Morris, 24, and another man arrested in connection with a serious sexual assault on a 20-year-old woman in Leeds were released last night on police bail pending further inquiries.

Mr Morris 24, was arrested yesterday at Leeds United's training ground and was held overnight by police investigating the allegations. The other man, who is not believed to be a footballer, was arrested in connection with the same allegations.