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Second man bailed in England gang-rape probe
( 2003-10-10 10:07) (Soccernet.com)

A 27-year-old man arrested in connection with allegations by a 17-year-old girl that she was gang-raped by Premiership footballers was bailed by police on Thursday night.

The man, who has not been named, was released pending further inquiries, Scotland Yard said.

He had gone voluntarily with his solicitor to a central London police station earlier today and was formally arrested before being questioned by detectives investigating the rape allegation.

The girl claims she willingly had sex with one man but was then gang-raped by a group of others, including several Premiership footballers, at the Grosvenor House Hotel on London's Park Lane on September 27.

He is the second man to be arrested, questioned and bailed by police investigating the allegations.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'A 27-year-old man arrested earlier today in connection with a rape and sexual assault on a 17-year-old female has been bailed to return to a central London police station on a date in late October.'

Yesterday party organiser Nicholas Meikle, 29, was arrested and bailed over the accusations after going voluntarily to a police station.

He too was questioned then bailed until later this month while police inquiries continue.

The girl, a sixth-former at a Catholic school, has told police she agreed to have sex with one man and was then attacked by up to seven others, some of them allegedly Premiership footballers, in room 316 at the Grosvenor House Hotel.

She claims she was raped and sexually assaulted in the early hours of September 27.

Meikle, from Catford, south London said he welcomed the police investigation which he hoped would clear him over the 'groundless' allegations.

Meikle said the girl agreed to have sex with him.

He claims she then consented to sex with one of his friends and two Premiership footballers from two different clubs and that at no stage was she raped.

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

Rumours about the identities of the football players allegedly involved have flooded the internet and circulated among fans but the media have so far not published their names.

The girl and her family were also understood to be meeting police today.

They are understood to be concerned that arrests have taken so long and fear evidence could have been lost.

The family is being advised by public relations consultant Max Clifford who said today: 'They are obviously pleased things are starting to happen at last.

'They just hope that the gap in between hasn't made it more difficult for the police to be successful in proving the case.'

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