No formal complaint over sexual assault allegation

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The Independent Online

The woman at the centre of a sexual assault allegation made against four members of the England team does not plan to make a formal complaint to the New Zealand police.

In a letter to the Rugby Football Union, the woman's solicitors, Chapman Tripp, also state she is not willing to "deal directly" with the misconduct investigation being undertaken by Twickenham's chief disciplinary officer, Jeff Blackett.

The woman fears that a formal complaint would "generate extensive and invasive news media, threaten her privacy and personal life and compound the impact on her of the June 15 sexual violations".

The unnamed quartet have from the outset strongly denied any wrongdoing. Without a formal complaint from the alleged victim the New Zealand police cannot take any action.

The woman has, for the first time, addressed some of the details relating to the allegation in order to provide "essential context" and to correct "misinformation" in the media. Auckland police have alleged that an incident occurred in a private room at the team hotel in the early hours of Sunday 15 June, after England's first Test defeat to New Zealand.

The woman's solicitors allege that she was invited back to the Hilton hotel by one member of the England team and then "sexually violated by four members of the team". The woman states that she was referred to police by the medical professionals who treated injuries which occurred in the alleged assault, and not a boyfriend as some reports have claimed.

The solicitor's letter also denied reports that their client is a lapdancer and countered suggestions that she knows the woman who sold her "Angel Barbie" story to a Sunday newspaper. The solicitor's letter, signed by a partner, Jack Hodder, adds the woman "has not had, and wishes not to have, any communication with the news media".

The RFU's chief executive, Francis Baron, said before the squad left New Zealand that the union would be pressing the Auckland police to close the case if no formal complaint was made, because it was the only way for the players to clear their names.

The independent legal advice, hired by the RFU in New Zealand, was that the players decline a police interview on the grounds that no formal complaint had been made. When the elite rugby director Rob Andrew was asked this week about attempts to have the case closed, he said talks had been ongoing, but would not say with whom.