Army chief and a global rugby scam

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#1
A SENIOR army officer honoured by the Queen for his services in Iraq has been arrested by police investigating alleged corruption involving the army’s rugby teams.

Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Hickling of the Royal Corps of Signals has been suspended as the army’s director of rugby after he admitted taking “inappropriate” payments of up to £1,000 from serving soldiers.

He had told the soldiers that the money was for promoting their careers as rugby players with leading Premiership clubs.

A team of 15 detectives from the army’s Special Investigation Branch (SIB) is also looking into allegations that thousands of pounds may have been embezzled from public funds and tournament sponsorship during trips by the teams to overseas resorts.

The inquiry is examining expenses claims relating to more than a dozen foreign trips taken by Hickling and army teams to five-star hotels in the Caribbean, Dubai, Africa and the Far East.

SIB detectives based at the army’s Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, west London, raided Hickling’s £750,000 home in Hook, Hampshire, last November. They took away documents, credit card bills and computer hard drives and questioned Hickling before releasing him on bail.

The investigation - code-named Operation Shook - has torn apart the Army Rugby Union (ARU), whose patron is the Queen. It is being overseen by General Sir Richard Dannatt, chief of the general staff and president of the union.

Dannatt ordered the SIB inquiry last autumn after he was alerted to concerns among players and staff that Hickling had been taking cash from members of the army’s rugby squad.

Payments of £1,000 are said to have been made in exchange for Hickling helping to “place” players with Premiership clubs.

One who refused to pay was Mal Roberts, a fly-half and captain of the army rugby team. Roberts is said to have rebuffed repeated attempts by Hickling to get him to pay £1,000 in the form of an “agent’s fee” to assist his career move. This weekend Roberts said he was not prepared to discuss the matter.

The SIB inquiry follows an internal investigation ordered by Brigadier Chris Sexton, the ARU’s chairman. At a meeting last September Hickling admitted taking what he called “agent’s fees” from several players. He was suspended from his position as director of rugby and ordered to repay the cash after it was deemed “inappropriate” by the union’s management board.

Army chiefs also told him they were rescinding an offer to employ him on a two-year contract as a private rugby consultant after he left the service this year.

Hickling, 55, was made an MBE for his services during the first Gulf war. Since 2000 he has been posted to the infrastructure branch at the army’s London district, where his responsibilities are said to include oversight of contracts on barracks and staff housing. His position as director of rugby is a voluntary one in addition to his military duties.

This weekend Hickling declined to discuss the matter. Asked whether he had taken payments from players, he said: “I can’t comment on this, okay. Listen, I’d better not say any more at the moment. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I need to go and get some advice on this, okay.” He then ended the telephone conversation.

The army rugby teams, comprising nearly 100 serving soldiers and officers, have produced some outstanding talent including Tim Rodber, the former England international, and Rob Wainwright, the former captain of Scotland. Neither is involved in the investigation.

Ministry of Defence sources say the SIB is examining all the overseas trips taken by the army sevens and 15s teams since Hickling became their head six years ago. These include five trips to Singapore, three trips each to the Caribbean, Kenya and Dubai, and two each to Thailand and Malaysia.

They have contacted the managers of five-star hotels in the Cayman Islands, Dubai and elsewhere seeking financial records relating to the teams’ visits. They want to compare the actual costs incurred with claims made by Hickling against ARU finances.

Sources said Hickling, who supervised the teams’ estimated £500,000-a-year budget, routinely flew business class while players and other staff travelled in economy class. He was often accompanied by his wife Jane, who was described to staff and players as a “team helper”.

One aspect of the inquiry is the Dubai Sevens tournament, when the army team played sides from New Zealand, South Africa and the Far East in 2003.

The team and many wives and girlfriends stayed for seven nights in the Hilton Dubai Jumeirah hotel in £200anight rooms.

More than 60 players and staff, including former members of the British Lions and the England team, have been questioned by detectives. The Ministry of Defence said it could not comment on an ongoing investigation.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1720036.ece
 
#3
Having played against 7 Sigs a few times (and the Sigs corps side) both managed by him I admit I do have a little smile on my face reading this.
 
#4
He had told the soldiers that the money was for promoting their careers as rugby players with leading Premiership clubs.
Of course it was...... :roll:
 
#5
the_matelot said:
He had told the soldiers that the money was for promoting their careers as rugby players with leading Premiership clubs.
Of course it was...... :roll:
Obviously promoting something close to home ( sorry promoting his home) if this is true.
 
#6
Some ammo for the RN against the pongos next wkend me thinks!

(Sorry, sorry, the Fijian 'B' team.....)
 
#7
7 - who cares how we win - signals I think you mean??
 
#8
Cuddles said:
7 - who cares how we win - signals I think you mean??
Played once against them in BMH Rintelns saturday team ( thats a team made up of those who might have driven past the hospital once). We beat em 21-14 and they left before even having a drink in the bar afterwards. LOL I think Hickling would have made them run back to Krefeld after that loss. Great game though.
Highlight for me was when he came over to our skipper at half time (we were 14-nil up) and asked as it was a friendly game if he could make a few changes......
He changed scrum half,fly half, props,wings... still lost though :D
 
#9
The good "Col" H has done a pretty good job in making the set up more professional and some players have gone on to make names for themselves. That said unless you were one of Andy's boys you never had a hope in hells chance of getting in the team, even if you were playing top class rugby at the time for a civilian club. No great loss!
 
#11
Methinks a future in politics awaits said chap... either that or a fit of coughing on "Who wants to be a millionaire"
 
#12
He was suspended from his position as director of rugby and ordered to repay the cash after it was deemed “inappropriate” by the union’s management board.

The army rugby teams, comprising nearly 100 serving soldiers and officers...
that could potentially put a dent in anyone's finances, at £1000 a go :)
 
#13
Having been at 7 Sigs with him when the rugby team were exempt from almost everything, an involuntary wry smile appeared on my face when I read the article.
 
#16
bigbleep. I was also there at the same time as and had the same sort of feeling.
Being a 'kissballer' we didn't get the time of day untill he left.

The old addige 'What goes around'..............
 
#17
It DID go around LOL. I played against the 7 Sigs AFTER he left. I was amazed to find that the Rugby Club bar was no longer in the cellar of one of the blocks but was tucked away in an attic and that the Rugby team had gone from being 'the anointed ones' to 'unclean!!!'. Dunno if the other sports officers had their hatchets out when he left but it seemed it.
 
#19
big_bleep said:
Having been at 7 Sigs with him when the rugby team were exempt from almost everything, an involuntary wry smile appeared on my face when I read the article.
Snap.

Was also there during his reign, always remeber having to cover for members of the rugby team during exercises/duties/shit jobs etc etc.

Karma can be a right bitch :p
 

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