26 Nov 2011

Claims RFU tried to pay off New Zealand hotel worker

11:34 am on 26 November 2011

The Times newspaper is claiming England's embattled Rugby Football Union tried to buy the silence of a New Zealand chambermaid following allegations of sexual harassment during the World Cup.

The newspaper quoted a confidential Rugby Players' Association report into the incident in a hotel in Dunedin and alleged the woman concerned had been offered $30,000 to keep quiet after James Haskell, Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley were accused of verbal sexual harassment.

A player quoted anonymously in the report said the players were told: "You've got 24 hours to decide whether to settle with the girl for $30,000 or not. Paying the money seemed to be the advice. Another option wasn't really given."

The player says they refused to pay because they hadn't done what she claimed they had done.

He says they went to find our own lawyers in New Zealand because they felt the RFU QC was interested in defending the RFU's reputation rather than their own.

The players said they had made an inappropriate joke but nothing more serious.

The maid's story later appeared in a Sunday newspaper, sparking a storm that resulted in Haskell and Ashton being given a warning and fined $10,000 by the RFU.

Hartley was exonerated.

The chambermaid, Annabel Newton, said the incident had left her traumatised but camera footage taken by Haskell showed her smiling and police found there was no case to answer following an investigation.