The controversy embroiling News Corp sports journalist Phil “Buzz’ Rothfield over his relationship with notorious gambler and former brothel owner Eddie Hayson has escalated as the former partner of league star Kieran Foran attacks the journalist.
“If only you would report the actual ‘truth’ of the situation instead of doing favours for your good mate Eddy [sic] and Kieran,” Rebecca Pope posted on Facebook on Sunday.
Ms Pope was referring to a front-page story in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper by Rothfield in which he interviewed her troubled former partner Foran about his mental health issues, his relationship breakdown and his reasons for tearing up his $5 million contract with the Parramatta Eels.
During the interview with Rothfield, which Mr Hayson organised and attended, Foran spoke glowingly of his “loyal friend” Mr Hayson, whom Foran said he had “leaned on” over the past couple of months.
News Corp is conducting an inquiry into whether Rothfield breached editorial guidelines by writing favourable stories about Mr Hayson, without revealing he had received payments from him.
Fairfax Media has revealed that Mr Hayson, who has been at the centre of some of rugby league and racing’s biggest betting scandals, has made multiple cash deposits into the TAB account of the veteran journalist.
Asked how much he had received from Mr Hayson, Rothfield said: “I honestly don’t know how much it is. I’d be stunned if it was more than two or two and a half grand.”
The most recent payment into Rothfield’s betting account occurred last December and involved a cash deposit of $2000.
Mr Hayson, who has been banned from both The Star casino and the TAB, claimed the money was reimbursement for NRL tickets he said Rothfield had obtained for him.
The cash payments made into the betting account of Rothfield, as well as accounts of other Hayson associates, are under investigation by law enforcement authorities.
While Mr Hayson has provided Rothfield with some great scoops over the years, the pair’s relationship troubled some colleagues.
A former senior editor told Fairfax Media that he censured Rothfield about his boasts that he visited Stiletto, a brothel in Camperdown that was owned at the time by Mr Hayson.
The former senior editor said he was “petrified” that word of Rothfield’s boasts might leak. He said he warned his reporter: “Do not ever go there again.”
Rothfield and Mr Hayson both vehemently denied that the journalist had frequented the brothel or was provided with prostitutes by Mr Hayson.
Mr Hayson’s friendship with a number of footballers has been of concern to the NRL over the years.
A decade ago, Mr Hayson received inside information that his friend Andrew Johns would not be playing for the Newcastle Knights that weekend due to injury.