Sam Burgess has instructed lawyers to look into defamation after he was cleared of sexting allegations following an investigation by his Australian NRL club South Sydney Rabbitohs.
It had been alleged that his Facebook Messenger account had been used to send graphic images to a 23-year-old woman.
In a statement the Rabbitohs said:”After being informed of the matter, the Club committed to investigate the complaint in consultation and co-operation with the NRL Integrity Unit. It appointed a panel consisting of Commissioner Lea Drake (Independent), Karyn Murphy (NRL Integrity Unit), Nick Pappas (Rabbitohs Chairman), Emily Grant (Rabbitohs Head of Operations, People and Culture) and Blake Solly (Rabbitohs Chief Executive Officer) to investigate and report upon the complaint.
“Representatives of the Panel interviewed South Sydney players and staff. The Complainant was interviewed privately by Ms Murphy. The Complainant declined to be interviewed by the Panel, and did not want her identity disclosed, which the Club has respected. The Panel has also reviewed all available documentary material.
“Based on a thorough review of the available evidence before it, the Panel was not satisfied that any South Sydney player engaged in any actionable misconduct resulting in a breach of their NRL Playing Contract, the NRL Rules or the SSFC Code of Conduct.”
Burgess who played at the 2015 Rugby World Cup for England under Stuart Lancaster has subsequently taken to social media after being cleared of wrongdoing.
“I have not sexted anyone. I fully cooperated with the inquiry as I said I would. I have engaged lawyer Chris Murphy to pursue my remedies and he has retained defamation lawyers.
“I have given a full account to the Inquiry and answered every questioned asked. It’s now in Mr Murphy’s hands. The next move is up to him. I have nothing more to say at this stage.”
I have not sexted anyone. I fully cooperated with the inquiry as I said I would. I have engaged lawyer Chris Murphy to pursue my remedies and he has retained defamation lawyers.
— Sam Burgess (@SamBurgess8) September 21, 2018
I have given a full account to the Inquiry and answered every questioned asked. It’s now in Mr Murphy’s hands. The next move is up to him. I have nothing more to say at this stage.
— Sam Burgess (@SamBurgess8) September 21, 2018
The Rugby League Players’ Association has also reacted to the furore surrounding the allegations and subsequent findings of the investigation.
“The RLPA acknowledge and support South Sydney’s decision that no player breached their NRL Playing Contract, the NRL Rules or the SSFC Code of Conduct,” said an RLPA spokesperson.
“We also commend the club on the thorough review that it undertook and the expert panel that oversaw the process.
“We were disappointed by the decision to publish certain images in this case and some of the public commentary before all of the circumstances were known, particularly given the sensitive nature of the allegations.
“We also have concerns about the public disclosure of confidential information during the investigation – that is unacceptable.
“Regardless of the nature of the investigation, fair process demands that confidentiality is maintained, and that all parties and the process itself are respected.
“When information is leaked, or people jump to conclusions, it can be extremely damaging not only for the individuals involved, but the game of Rugby League as a whole. There is no integrity in such actions.
“We will continue working with all of the relevant parties to address these concerns.”
Burgess had always been defiant over the allegations, speaking to the media earlier this week he said: “I’m not running away or hiding. I’m here to tell you there is an inquiry going on and until then I can’t talk about it.”
“I’m not angry. What hurts me the most is seeing my wife upset about what’s out there.”
“I’m completely happy to be going through the process. I’ve been open and honest with everything. Hopefully, it’s resolved quickly”.
Papparazi had reportedly been surrounding his home since the story broke and when asked about it on Tuesday the 29-year-old said: “I just want to protect my family in this whole thing. I’ve got a wife. I’ve got a daughter. My wife’s heavily pregnant. I just want them to be safe and happy. In my current situation at home there’s just no chance of that.”
“With respect to my wife, my family, my wife’s family, it’s been a tough process to go through, the family together,” he said.
“I’m fortunate that I’ve got a strong wife. I’ve got a wife who loves me. I’ve got great family. I’ve got great friends. Great support around me to help me through these allegations that have been made. It’s been a tricky few days.”
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