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offer from a Super Rugby club being withdrawn.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."