Website shut for naming players accused of rape

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The Independent Online

A website on which several Premiership footballers were accused of raping a 17-year-old girl was closed yesterday.

The use of the internet to publish unfounded allegations against individuals who have not even been charged, let alone found guilty, has been criticised by lawyers.

The development came as Scotland Yard confirmed that a teenager had accused several men of raping her in a hotel in central London in the early hours of Saturday.

Police are investigating the alleged attack at the Grosvenor House hotel in Park Lane.

The teenager claims she consented to sex with one individual but was then attacked by others. She reportedly says a total of up to eight men were present during the assault at the five-star hotel.

Later on Saturday, she contacted the police and made the allegations. The teenager has undergone a medical examination and had counselling.

Although the media know the names of the two football clubs allegedly involved, they are unable to publish them for legal reasons.

Neither of the clubs allegedly involved or agents for the accused players have been prepared to comment.

The Internet Service Providers' Association said: "There have been several high-profile cases where sites have printed rumours. It is incredibly hard to control this, as there is no clear legal guidance as to who is responsible."

A spokesman added: "We have to be judge and jury, taking responsibility for the content. That is not right."

The teenager has spent the past two days being questioned by detectives from Scotland Yard's specialist Operation Sapphire unit, which deals with sex crimes.

The men who are alleged to have been involved will be questioned in the next few weeks, police say.

Forensic teams from Scotland Yard have been examining rooms at the hotel for DNA evidence, and closed circuit television film.

A Metropolitan Police statement said: "The allegation does concern more than one suspect and is said to have taken place at a venue in central London in the early hours of the 27 September.

"The offence was reported to police later that same day when the victim went to a central London police station.

"Our searches at the central London venue have now been complete.

"We are in liaison with the Crown Prosecution Service and this will continue throughout the remainder of the investigation. There have been no arrests."