Money paid to 'silence' Shane Warne's sex harassment accuser

MORE THAN £8,500 has been paid to a woman at the centre of a series of sex scandals involving Shane Warne, to buy her silence about her relationship with the disgraced Australian cricketer, it was claimed yesterday.

A South African woman, Helen Cohen Alon, claims the sporting legend bombarded her with lewd text messages after they began a relationship last year.

The 45-year-old mother of three said last week she was preparing to fly to Australia for a TV interview on her relationship with Warne - and pledged to take a public lie-detector test. Saying her revelations were not about money, she said: "I believe I must speak up for many women who have been harassed by him."

But a Johannesburg Police detective Julius Smith said yesterday that a close friend of Warne - currently banned from playing Test cricket for using a prohibited diuretic - had paid 100,000 Rand (8,600) to Ms Cohen Alon to buy her silence.

Mr Smith is now investigating charges of fraud and theft levelled by Ms Cohen Alon against Warne’s friend, Johannesburg businessman Gavin Varejes. She claims he stole her mobile phone SIM card containing Warne’s messages.

But Mr Smith also said the police possessed a document, signed by both of them, confirming a payment in "full and final settlement".

Ms Cohen Alon would only confirm yesterday that she had decided not to fly to Australia "for security reasons".

Last week, she disclosed that she and the cricketer became "good friends" after they met in an upmarket Johannesburg shopping mall during an Australian cricket tour of South Africa.

Warne kept in touch with regular text messages, she said, one of which read: "Where are you now, waiting for you, should I get dressed or stay naked, room 2001, Shane."

He also allegedly texted her on his return to Australia saying he was "thinking naughty thoughts" about her while in bed with his wife.

The messages were tame, she claimed, compared with others sent over a period of a year - which were "not suitable for a family newspaper".

Mr Smith said Varejes contacted Ms Cohen Alon during this year’s Cricket World Cup in South Africa, when he heard she was trying to sell her story to the press. After checking Warne’s number was on her cellphone, he arranged the payment.

"He saw the messages Shane Warne sent to Cohen Alon and paid her R100,000 because he wanted to keep it quiet," the detective said. Mr Varejes later revealed to the police the payment he had made, and in a tangled twist he laid a counter-charge of blackmail, Mr Smith said.

Mr Varejes has now accused Ms Cohen Alon of blackmail - and accused the whole saga as "something out of Jerry Springer".

Warne was involved in a phone sex scandal in England three years ago in which a 22-year-old nurse accused him of making raunchy phone calls to her. He lost the Australian Test vice-captaincy as a result.

The 33-year-old crisis-prone leg-spinner flew out of Australia yesterday with his family, ahead of yet another storm.

A Melbourne stripper is set to tell all tonight on Australian television about a three-month affair she claims to have had with him earlier this year.

Exotic dancer Angela Gallagher said she was prompted to make her own allegations by the claims of Ms Cohen Alon.

Last weekend the Sydney Sun-Herald ran a story on Warne’s shortcomings under the headline: "The women of Australia have a message for Shane Warne’s wife: run girl."