Haskell threatens to sue

2011-11-28 13:00
James Haskell (Gallo)
London - England forward James Haskell is reportedly threatening to sue the woman who falsely claimed to have been verbally harassed by him and his team-mates during the Rugby World Cup.

Although the players have always denied Annabel Newton's allegations, following an incident at the England team's hotel in Dunedin, it emerged on Friday that the Rugby Football Union had advised Haskell, Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley to consider paying her $NZ30 000 ($22 845) in "hush money". The trio refused to pay, having already apologised to Newton despite feeling they were guilty of nothing more than two instances of inappropriate language.

Haskell has been so upset about the allegations and subsequent fallout involving this week's RFU leaks that, according to UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph, his legal representatives have written to Newton demanding that she withdraw her allegations and have warned that their client "will take the appropriate steps to clear his name and to recover his financial loss".

The paper reports that his lawyer also warned Newton that a video of the incident, filmed by Hartley, will be made public to demonstrate "the falsehood" of the allegations that she has made. Haskell is understood to have run up substantial legal fees in an effort to clear his name, and the incident was reportedly responsible for an offer from a Super Rugby club being withdrawn.

The RFU held a disciplinary hearing into the matter this month. Haskell and Ashton were warned about their future conduct and given suspended fines of £5 000 ($8 000) at a hearing led by Rob Andrew. Hartley was exonerated. But a statement from Andrew, the elite rugby director, said the punishments were for the players allowing themselves to become involved in a compromising situation and that Newton's "allegations of very serious wrongdoing were entirely false".

The RFU's judgment, sent to the players, stated: "We believe you had no intention to sexually harass or intimidate Ms Newton."

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