If the 24 hours leading up to Tuesday morning were crucial, what happens in London on Wednesday could give some sort of direction to the investigations against Pakistan’s players accused of spot-fixing in their current Test series in England.
On Tuesday, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt were withdrawn from Pakistan’s training in Taunton to be available to authorities in London. While Ijaz Butt, the PCB chief, was scheduled to speak to them, the HT learnt that Haroon Lorgat, Chief Executive of the ICC, was travelling to London to hold talks with Butt. The PCB’s legal advisor Tafazzul Rizvi, already in London, will be handling proceedings and this could also include meetings involving the Pakistan High Commission.
The complexity of the case has forced everyone involved to be extremely cautious, not least the ICC. Before the ICC can contemplate taking any action against the players, under their own laws or Code of Conduct, they must wait for the law of the land to take its course, a source said. However, the release on bail without charge of Mazhar Majeed, the middleman, has given credence to the belief that bringing any conviction under British law would be difficult.
Rick Parry, a former chief executive of Liverpool FC and currently chairman of a UK commission set up to investigate the threat of gambling-related corruption in sport, made it clear that taking this case to its legal fruition may be easier said than done. “I don’t think (the case) has any evidence at all,” Parry told cricket website Cricinfo. “There doesn’t appear to be any betting activity at all associated with these particular allegations.” What Parry means is that, under UK law, for a case of fraud to be registered, there must be a party that was defrauded — someone who legally bet that one of those particular deliveries would be something other than a no-ball, and therefore lost money. Thus far, no such party has emerged.
Once the British police finish their investigations, the ICC could come into the picture. Even if it cannot be proven in a court of law in the UK that these players have committed a crime, the ICC can bring charges against the players of “bringing the game into disrepute” or violating other tenets of cricket’s laws.
For that to happen, however, the Anti Corruption Unit will have to complete a report of their own, upon which Lorgat, the chief executive, can act.