England’s controversy ridden World Cup tour continues to dominate the back, and front pages of the nations press. It shows no signs of dying down and the latest scandal to emerge is regarding the way the hotel room incident was dealt with by the players involved and the powers that be at the RFU.
The latest allegations are that Chris Ashton, James Haskell and Dylan Hartley were told to pay hotel worker Annabel Newton £15,000 to stop her from going to the press with her money. The trio are believed to have refused to pay Newton off, claiming they had done nothing wrong and the story went on to be leaked. One of the players, who remains unnamed in the public domain is quoted in leaked RFU documents as saying “Two days before the Scotland game, WC (Will Chignell, head of media at the RFU) says “You’ve got 24 hours to decide whether to settle with the girl for NZ$30,000 or not”. Paying seemed to be the advice. Another option wasn’t really given.”
The insistence of the England stars they had nothing to answer for appears to be potentially accepted. The transcript of a video of the encounter between Newton and the three England players has been released and it seems the allegations made by Newton appear to be entirely untrue, with Newton allegedly being shown in the video smiling and joking along with the players, seemingly a contrast to her claims she had felt “intimidated and traumatised”.
Haskell has responded to this saying he may sue the hotel worker over the allegations on behalf of the trio.
By way of punishment from the RFU for the incident Haskell and Ashton were given suspended £5,000 fines whilst Hartley was cleared of any wrongdoing. Haskell and Ashton are believed to have decided against an appeal against their punishments.