Dunedin maid wanted $30,000 for silence

England's Rugby Football Union (RFU) reportedly tried to buy the silence of a Dunedin hotel maid who claimed England players sexually harassed her during the Rugby World Cup.

The Times of London quoted a confidential Rugby Players' Association report into the Dunedin hotel incident, saying the RFU pressured the players to pay Annabel Newton $30,000 she sought to settle the matter.

James Haskell - who has since signed with the Highlanders - Chris Ashton and Dylan Hartley, who were accused of harassing her verbally, refused to pay.

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.

"We refused to pay because we hadn't done what she claimed we had done. So we went to find our own lawyers in New Zealand because we felt the RFU QC was interested in defending the RFU's reputation rather than ours."

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

Ms Newton's story later appeared in Britain's Sunday Mirror.

Haskell and Ashton were fined by the RFU and Hartley was exonerated.


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