Page last updated at 01:55 GMT, Saturday, 21 June 2008 02:55 UK

England rugby four can leave NZ

Hilton Hotel, Auckland
The alleged incident took place in Auckland's Hilton Hotel

Four England rugby players at the centre of allegations of sexual assault and/or rape have been told they are free to leave New Zealand, reports say.

Police are investigating the allegations, but no formal complaint has been made so far.

The players have so far declined to be interviewed by police over the claim.

The assault was alleged to have taken place in a room at the Hilton Hotel, Auckland, on Sunday after England's defeat in the first Test.

Members of the Adult Sexual Assault Team flew to Christchurch, where the squad is now based, hoping to talk to the four players, who have not been identified to the press.

Rob Andrew could not be drawn on the police inquiry

The New Zealand Herald reported that police had said there was no reason to detain or restrict the movements of the players.

A police spokeswoman had earlier said the players had advised police, via legal representation, "that they are declining to be interviewed by police on the matter at this stage".

She went on: "Auckland City Police will continue to investigate the allegation - that a woman was raped and/or sexually assaulted by four players - as thoroughly as possible before reviewing the file.

"Any decision about where to take matters from there will depend on the outcome of that review."

The spokeswoman said no formal statement had been made by the woman behind the allegations.

"A formal complaint can be made at any time in the future and police are then obliged to assess the evidential basis of that complaint," the spokeswoman added.

'Full support'

The BBC's Nick Bryant, in Christchurch, said that under New Zealand law the players were not obliged to speak.

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Francis Baron told BBC News the players were acting on legal advice by not speaking to the police.

"No complaint has still been made, the police therefore are unable to progress their investigation," he said.

"We are desperate to clear the players' names but we're in a very strange situation - with no allegations, no complaint being made - as to exactly how the name of the players can be cleared."

The England team play the All Blacks in Christchurch on Saturday.

New Zealand 37-20 England
14 Jun 08 |  English

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