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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 October, 2003, 04:17 GMT 05:17 UK
Footballers questioned in hotel 'rape' case
Grosvenor House hotel
The alleged incident took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel
Two Premiership footballers have been released on police bail after being questioned about a claim a 17-year-old girl was raped in a London hotel.

A 22-year-old and a 19-year-old, who have not been named, were questioned on Friday at separate London police stations, Scotland Yard said.

The men are both professional footballers playing in the Premiership, the BBC has learned.

Following the arrests England and Newcastle United footballer Kieron Dyer publicly denied any involvement in the alleged gang rape at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

Dyer issued a statement through his lawyers to "set the record straight and put an end to the massive speculation".

He said: "I had no involvement in this matter let alone being 'at the centre of it' as suggested in e-mails, websites and elsewhere," he said.

Kieron Dyer
This whole matter has been very distressing for me
Kieron Dyer

Dyer said that although he had stayed at the hotel on the night in question he was out until the early hours and was "unaware" of anything having happened.

The 24-year-old criticised "distressing" media coverage and other speculation about his involvement, saying his family had been hounded and his reputation damaged "in the most public way possible".

The footballer is on international duty with the England squad in Turkey for Saturday's crucial Euro 2004 qualifier.

His statement continued: "I recognise that the claims made by the woman involved are of the most serious nature, and warrant a thorough investigation.

"I do not wish to trivialise these serious allegations. It is for this reason that I have not stated my position until now."

Party organiser

Two other men have already been arrested by police and released on bail in connection with the same allegation.

My client denies the allegation in its entirety
Statement on behalf of party organiser Nicholas Meikle
They were a 27-year-old, who is not a footballer, and 29-year-old party organiser Nicholas Meikle.

A solicitor for Mr Meikle, of Catford in south London, has issued a statement in which he categorically denied any wrongdoing.

The investigation into the girl's allegations is being carried out by Scotland Yard's Operation Sapphire team, which handles sex crimes.

No footballers or clubs have been named by police in connection with the allegations.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"He says there are plenty of witnesses to prove his story"



SEE ALSO:
Dyer's statement in full
10 Oct 03  |  UK


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