England star 'in clear' over rape claim

by BEN TAYLOR, Daily Mail

The England international footballer at the centre of the furore over the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old girl was identified yesterday as Kieron Dyer.

The 24-year-old Newcastle United star has spent the last week under huge pressure to discuss his role in the sordid incident at the five-star Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, central London.

His links to the case prompted an avalanche of speculation over the internet and even led to unfounded rumours that Newcastle's manager, Sir Bobby Robson, was on the verge of quitting.

During his team's match against Southampton on Saturday, Dyer suffered taunts from the terraces about the girl's claim that she was sexually assaulted by up to seven men.

Yet, it emerged yesterday, he was not even in the hotel at the time. His connection to the case was that the suite where the alleged attack took place was booked in his name.

Dyer was named by "party organiser" Nicholas Meikle, 29, who while exonerating the England star also lifted the lid on an appalling culture in which apparently willing young girls are regularly shared out for sex among top soccer stars.

Meikle boasted how players referred to the practice, which includes group sex and partner swapping, as "roasting", admitting that women are treated like pieces of meat.

Yesterday there was no sign of Dyer at his £400,000 house in Durham.

But his father, Leroy, insisted yesterday that his son was innocent. The 48-year-old

engineering worker said: "Kieron never done anything."

Dyer, who was bought from Ipswich Town for £6.5million in 1999 and earns up to £45,000 a week, has been linked with numerous lurid incidents involving women.

In the most notorious, he took part in the filming of a home-made pornographic video in the Cyprus resort of Ayia Napa three years ago.

It was that type of culture which seeks to degrade women that Meikle described so graphically yesterday.

"Roasting" nights start, he said, in night clubs where players take over VIP areas and flaunt their wealth by ordering champagne as a way of seducing women.

The massive wage increases over the past five years had, said Meikle, fuelled the sex culture and there was no shortage of women willing to participate in the orgies, described as "roasts" or "mini roasts".

"If you're a footballer, you just click your fingers," he said.

The girl has alleged to police officers that she was sexually assaulted by up to seven men in the early hours of September 27 after she agreed to sex with one man.

Yesterday Meikle told the News of the World that the girl had consented to sex with him and three other men.

Meikle, 29, of Catford, South-East London, claimed that only two footballers were involved. He said he met Dyer at the Grosvenor House on Friday, September 26.

But the player left to go to a restaurant and was not seen again.

According to Meikle, he met the girl in a West End bar called Funky Buddha at 1am, moving on to another venue before returning to the Grosvenor.

He claims the girl started kissing him and agreed to have sex with him back at the hotel.

Three other men then entered the room - two of them Premiership players - and each had sex with the girl.

Meikle said the girl had breakfast and stayed at the hotel until 2.20pm. He told the newspaper that she might have seen Dyer on her way out of the Grosvenor House.

"I can't understand how she can cry rape and stay overnight until the afternoon," he said.

Max Clifford, the publicist who is representing the girl and her family, said she "totally refuted" Meikle's version of events.

"When I spoke to her she was sobbing her heart out," he said. "She consented to have sex with one person, that is all. She is absolutely devastated."

Mr Clifford said the girl denied having breakfast with the men and Meikle's claims that there were only four involved.

Police have revealed that a vital witness has come forward with information about the evening but have refused to give further details. They intend to interview all the players involved under caution and in their presence of their solicitors.

The naming of Dyer in two Sunday tabloids left England coach Sven Goran-Eriksson with a major dilemma.

He was due to announce his squad last night for Saturday's crunch Euro 2004 match in Turkey where England need a win or a draw to qualify for next summer's finals.

But the announcement was mysteriously delayed by 24 hours.

The Football Association said the reason for the postponement was concern over the fitness of striker Michael Owen, who was injured during Liverpool's match with Arsenal on Saturday.

But the Dyer problem has put Eriksson under serious pressure.

If he leaves Dyer out then he is likely to be criticised for dropping an innocent man.

If he includes him, the media furore surrounding the Grosvenor House affair could disrupt preparations for what is England's most important match since the World Cup finals.

Eriksson will want assurances from Scotland Yard that Dyer will not be hauled out of the pre-match build-up to be quizzed by detectives.

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