LONDON - James Haskell has bemoaned the "trial by social media" inflicted on Danny Cipriani after his former Wasps and England team-mate's conviction over a nightclub incident on a pre-season tour.
After more than five hours, a disciplinary hearing convened by England's governing Rugby Football Union decided on Wednesday to uphold a charge against Cipriani of conduct prejudicial to the game but, significantly, took no further action against the 30-year-old playmaker.
Cipriani, now with English Premiership side Gloucester, had been fined £2,000 ($2,500) and ordered to pay £250 by a court last Thursday following the incident that took place on the southwest club's pre-season tour of the Channel Island of Jersey on August 15. Many observers felt Cipriani risked being punished three times for the same incident after Gloucester fined him £2,000 and order he completed 10 hours of community work.
Cirpriani's case, like that of England cricketer Ben Stokes who was found not guilty of a charge of affray last week following an incident outside a Bristol nightclub in September, generated plenty of social media comment. But England flanker Haskell, now with Premiership side Northampton, said much of the talk on various forums was worthless.
"It's a case of trial by social media and the problem of that is that everyone is ill-informed and knows nothing," he insisted. "Ben Stokes was a great example -- people were ready to throw him under the bus and it's the same with Danny."
Haskell added: "People love to hate him but I know him as a good, hard-working guy and it's time to move on. I don't judge him and I don't think anybody should. It was time to move on an hour after the court case, but a few ex-players and coaches threw him under the bus for easy headlines.
"It's best to move on as there is a lot more to life than Danny Cipriani. I have spoken to him and he's good. It's unfortunate that when you have a profile, everything is times one million."
Haskell, however, said a high-profile sportsman such as Cipriani should not have put himself in a position where there was a risk of a confrontation outside the Royal Yacht Hotel in St Helier.
"We now live in a world of stitch-up, we live in the world of the easy win, we live in the world that everyone's a paparazzi, everyone's recording everything," explained Haskell. "You've got to be whiter than white and don't put yourself in those positions. I'm a nobody, so God knows what actual famous people have to think about."