Southee accused of `lewd behaviour` on flight to India for WC
Wellington: New Zealand`s World Cup squad on Wednesday got embroiled in a controversy when fast bowler Tim Southee was accused of "lewd behaviour" by a woman co-passenger during their flight from Sydney to Dubai en route to Mumbai.
Southee was accused of behaving in a lewd manner towards a female co-passenger when he took her to his seat at the business class cubicle after having drinks together in the flight.
According to reports here, another passenger on the Emirates flight described the incident between Southee and the woman as the "worst possible sort of lewd behaviour".
New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan, however, said the incident has been blown out of proportion and ruled out sending Southee back home.
Team manager Dave Currie said the reports were incorrect and that the woman didn`t lodge a complaint. He said the matter has been closed.
"I`ve spoken to Tim, I`ve also spoken to team manager, I`ve spoken to (captain) Dan Vettori and a number of other players. It appears pretty innocent really," Vaughan said.
"I think Tim met a female passenger and struck up a conversation. They spent a bit of time and had a drink together on the plane.”
"At some stage she came to Tim`s seat and perhaps spent a maximum of 30 seconds with Tim, and there may well have been, dare I say it, a kiss on the cheek, but that was it. She went back to her seat, and Tim is adamant nothing inappropriate, nothing untoward, occurred," Vaughan said.
Vaughan said a number of other players had supported Southee`s version of events.
Currie said he had investigated the matter and nothing inappropriate happened between Southee and the woman.
"I have become aware of the media attention about the incident and carried out a thorough investigation. I`ve spoken to Tim directly as well as team management. Tim has described a detailed version of events and has provided a written statement in relation to this," Currie said in a statement.
"I also spoke with several individuals and held a team meeting. Everyone is adamant that nothing untoward occurred on the flight and are surprised about the reports.”
"Tim met a female passenger on board the plane and spent some time with her, however we are confident that nothing inappropriate happened between them," the manager said.
The statement said NZC now considered the matter closed unless further information came to light.
Team media manager Ellery Tappin said he was "dumbfounded" by the attention the reports garnered.
"We`ve done a thorough investigation and found absolutely nothing substantial, and all are a bit dumbfounded," he said.
New Zealand play two warm-up matches before the World Cup -- against Ireland at Nagpur on February 12 and against India in Chennai on February 16. They play their first World Cup match against Kenya in Chennai on February 20.