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Brown & Ojo guilty of misconduct

Brown and Ojo were fined and reprimanded
Brown and Ojo were fined and reprimanded

England players Mike Brown and Topsy Ojo have been found guilty of misconduct and fined following the recent tour to New Zealand.

Danny Care and David Strettle were found not guilty of any misconduct. All four deny any criminal wrong-doing.

A number of England players embarked on a drinking session at a nightclub after losing the first Test on 14 June.

The evening ended with females returning to the team hotel and an allegation of serious sexual assault.

No formal complaint was made to New Zealand police, and Strettle was not one of the four people the police wished to interview.

The subsequent Rugby Football Union investigation was carried out by disciplinary officer Jeff Blackett.

"All the players I have interviewed vehemently deny any criminal wrong-doing and I have seen or heard no evidence which has been tested to gainsay those denials," he said.

Brown has been reprimanded and fined 1,000 for "staying out all night during an England rugby tour" and missing a physiotherapist appointment.

Ojo has been reprimanded and fined 500 after admitting staying out until after 0700.

Strettle was found not guilty but warned "to be careful in future not to put himself in any compromising situations which may lead to him bringing the game into disrepute".

Blackett added: "Strettle, like Danny Care, only became involved in this investigation because he popped his head round an unlocked interconnected door to remind Mike Brown that it was time to leave for the rehabilitation session.

"He saw Topsy Ojo in Mike Brown's room and he effectively came forward as a witness to support Mike Brown and Topsy Ojo against serious allegations."

The RFU has already agreed a new code of conduct since the allegations came to light, which includes banning players from bringing women back to the team hotel.

And in his report Blackett made further recommendations, adding: "This is most important in relation to very young players who do not yet have the life skills to cope with sudden stardom."

Now that his name has been cleared Topsy Ojo wishes to draw a line under the matter

Statement by London Irish

Blackett said that the image of England rugby had been damaged by some of the press reports and speculation.

"It is the irresponsible reporting which has done more to damage the image of England rugby rather than any actual events themselves, and I hope that those responsible will redress the balance in reporting these findings," he said.

A statement issued by Ojo's club, London Irish, said the 22-year-old accepted the investigation's findings but that he now wanted to put the incident behind him.

"Topsy fully accepts Judge Blackett's findings which as expected exonerate Topsy and his three England team-mates," the statement read.

"Topsy naturally regrets the circumstances that gave rise to the investigation by the RFU and now that his name has been cleared he wishes to draw a line under the matter.

"He now wishes to get back to focusing on his career and the new season."

Care was retained in new team manager Martin Johnson's first England squad on 1 July, while Brown, Ojo and Strettle were selected for the Saxons.

see also
England 'needed Johnson example'
23 Jun 08 |  English
New Zealand 44-12 England
21 Jun 08 |  English
England rugby four can leave NZ
21 Jun 08 |  UK News
England four in NZ assault probe
20 Jun 08 |  UK News
New Zealand 37-20 England
14 Jun 08 |  English

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