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Warne dealt another blow

Sydney: A Melbourne stripper claims in a tell-all interview with an Australian magazine that Test cricketer Shane Warne pursued and romanced her in a three month affair in which he sent her sexy mobile phone messages.

Angela Gallagher, 38, said she started a sexual relationship with Warne in May this year and that the leg spinner owes her an apology for telling her he had an open relationship with his wife Simone.

Gallagher’s claims, paid for by the magazine and by the Channel Seven television network, were published in the magazine on Monday as the banned superstar sets up temporary refuge in Britain with his wife and children. Channel Seven later also screened the interview.

Banned from playing cricket for 12 months after testing positive to a banned diuretic or fluid-loss pill, Warne is reported to have moved to England where he was due to play in a one-day charity fund-raiser on Friday with the Lashings Cricket Club — a touring team of former Test players — at Weybridge in Surrey.

However, a Cricket Australia (CA) spokesman later said that Warne’s manager and brother Jason had phoned the CA chief executive James Sutherland and confirmed Warne would not play in any charity matches during his England trip.

Sutherland had earlier warned that the leg-spinner could face disciplinary action since it was inappropriate and against the spirit of cricket for Warne to play as he is halfway through the ban.

The latest episode in the Warne soap opera follows allegations by South African Helen Cohen Alon earlier this month that he had harassed her with lewd text messages.

Gallagher told the magazine she decided to go public over her relationship with Warne because she was angry at public criticism of Cohen Alon.

She described Warne as a “gentle, charming man” whom she said could do a lot of good with his profile. “This saga is a real shame but it’s time he faced the truth and apologised,” she added.

“I want Shane to apologise and I want him to get help,” she said. “I expect awful things will be said about me after this, but everything that happened is true and I hold my head up high.”

Gallagher said she exchanged mobile phone numbers with Warne after meeting him on May 11 at a Melbourne nightspot.

She discovered several explicit text messages from the cricketer after she arrived home later that night, including one that said: “Sweetie, I want to meet you in the toilets”.

Gallagher, separated from her husband at the time, agreed to meet Warne after he called again the next day.

“I asked him about his wife and he led me to believe they weren't together,” she said. “He told me they had a very open marriage.”

A sexual relationship started and continued until Warne went to the United States with the Starlight Children’s Foundation and Gallagher reunited with her husband Paul.

Cohen Alon silence ‘bought’

Meanwhile, in Durban, Gavin Varejes, a Johannesburg-based businessman and an associate of Warne, admitted paying R100,000 (Rs 6.5 lakh approximately) to ‘buy’ Cohen Alon’s silence. Varejes made the admission in a sworn affidavit to the police who are investigating charges of “blackmail” against the 45-year-old.

In view of the stunning admission, the police officer investigating the charges, Julius Smith, has asked Interpol to obtain a statement from Warne.

Smith was quoted in the local media here as saying that Varejes had admitted to contacting Cohen Alon when he heard that she had a story about Warne and she was trying to sell it to the press.

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