Ex-Town star released without charge

FORMER Ipswich Town star James Scowcroft arrived back in the UK last night after being released by Spanish authorities investigating an alleged sex assault.

FORMER Ipswich Town star James Scowcroft arrived back in the UK last night after being released by Spanish authorities investigating an alleged sex assault.

While three of his Leicester City team-mates remained in custody following an alleged incident at the upmarket La Manga resort, Scowcroft was released without charge.

He was ordered to pay 20,000 euros (£13,300) bail and attend a Spanish consulate in the UK twice a month, but no allegations against him were specified upon his release.

The Bury St Edmunds-born player had gone before the court with a number of other players yesterday morning facing sexual assault and breaking and entering allegations.

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Meanwhile, the Spanish authorities are continuing to probe the alleged assault on three women in a hotel.

A British official said last night that the charge faced by the three men was "sexual aggression with penetration, which would mean rape".

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Another six Leicester players arrested over the incident, including Scowcroft, were returning to England, as the club acknowledged it was a bad day for Leicester City and a bad day for English football.

Keith Gillespie, Paul Dickov and Frank Sinclair were remanded in custody by an investigating judge, Cartagena court officials said. The three also face charges of forced entry, understood to be into a hotel room.

Matt Elliott, Lilian Nalis and Scowcroft were released.

Nikos Dabizas and Danny Coyne were "provisionally released' following a hearing on Thursday and a ninth player, Steffen Freund, was released earlier without charge.

A group of men were said to have barged into a room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in the upmarket La Manga sports resort and attacked the women, leaving them with multiple injuries.

The struggling Premiership club had flown its players to Spain for a warm weather break as they prepared to battle against possible relegation from the Barclaycard Premiership.

The incident has thrown the club into crisis with the prospect of having to play crucial matches without some key players and has further mired the reputation of English football in sleaze and scandal.

The decision to remand the three players was taken by the woman investigating judge hearing the case, Pilar Perez Martin, in proceedings behind closed doors.

Yesterday , the club's chief operations manager, Paul Mace, said he welcomed the return of six players released on bail or without charge over the past 24 hours and was anxious to bring home the final three as soon as possible.

He told a press conference at the Walkers Stadium: "The football club welcomes the release of three of our football players which means that six of the nine players that we currently have still out there are able to return home to England.

"We still have three players detained in Spain and will now be concentrating all our efforts with our legal representatives to try to secure their release as soon as is practically possible.'

He hoped they could be freed in the next few days.

He added: "We have every confidence in the Spanish judicial system that justice will be seen to be done.

"I think that the three players, in common with the other six players who have been released by police and are free to return home, have at all stages of discussions with our representatives protested their innocence in the strongest possible terms.'

He said team manager Micky Adams, like everyone else at the club, was shocked by what had happened.

He added: "Micky is an old-fashioned manager who stands by his players, and works very closely with his players.

"He has been in constant touch with the relatives and families of the players themselves to try to reassure them at every possible opportunity.

"It has come as a very big shock to him, as it has to all of us at the football club.

"I think that without wishing to prejudge the judicial system, we are certainly not looking at the prospect of our players being kept in Spain for a matter of weeks.

"We are working around the clock to get those players home as quickly as possible.

"As it stands at the moment, there is not one single Leicester City footballer who has been found guilty of anything.'

The players continued to be resolute in that they had done nothing wrong in terms of criminal activity.

A full internal investigation was expected to be carried out, but the team was already back on the training ground yesterday in preparation for the next match against Birmingham City on Saturday next week.

He said the six released players were expected to return to England last night .

He added: "It is not a good day for Leicester City Football Club and it is not a good day for English football.

"However, what has transpired has transpired, and we have to deal with it.'

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