ICC praise for NoW as Pakistan cricketers banned

The International Cricket Council has praised the ‘good work’of the News of the World in exposing a match-fixing scandal which saw three Pakistan players banned from the sport on Saturday.

Former Pakistan captain Salman Butt has been banned for 10 years, five of which are suspended; Mohammad Asif was banned for seven years, two of which are suspended and Mohammad Amir was banned for five years.

The bans come a day after the three were told they would face criminal charges in the UK for allegedly cheating bookmakers.

Butt, Asif and Amir – who were questioned by Scotland Yard detectives last August – will also face criminal charges in the UK for allegedly conspiring to cheat bookmakers, along with agent Mazhar Majeed, the Crown Prosecution Service said on Friday.

Michael Beloff QC, who chaired the three-man anti-corruption tribunal in Doha, said: “The tribunal found that the charges under Article 2.1.1 of the code that (respectively) Mr Asif agreed to bowl and did bowl a deliberate no ball in the Lord’s Test match played between Pakistan and England from 26 to 29 August 2010, Mr Amir agreed to bowl and did bowl two deliberate no balls in the same Test, and Mr Butt was party to the bowling of those deliberate no balls, were proved.”

International Cricket Council chief Haroon Lorgat said: “I acknowledge the decision to deliver these bans to all three players and know that this would have been hard to achieve without the good work of the News of the World.

“The verdicts make that message crystal clear – there can be no place in our sport for corruption. The ICC has a duty to protect the integrity of this great sport and the public’s confidence in it.

“We are pleased that the News of the World helped us achieve that.”

The News of the World investigation into allegations of match-fixing involving the Pakistan cricket team began with a phone tip-off to the paper’s investigations editor Mazher Mahmood in January 2009.

A former member of the Pakistan cricket management team told him that the England versus Pakistan series that summer would be rigged to get huge betting wins for crooked syndicates. And Mahmood was told that Mazhar Majeed, a businessman and agent for Pakistani players, was the fixer.

Mahmood met Majeed on a series of occasions in August last year posing as a rich businessman keen to hold a cricket tournament in the Middle East.

Majeed boasted of his ability to facilitate betting scams and eventually, at a meeting on 25 August, predicted exactly when Amir and Asif would bowl no-balls against England at the Oval the following day in exchange for £150,000. The News of the World handed over a dossier of evidence to Scotland Yard on the eve of publication the following Saturday.

The NotW marked the story this weekend with an eight-page supplement providing a detailed account of the investigation.

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