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Trio may escape criminal charges

The three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of a global storm over betting allegations are highly unlikely to face criminal charges, legal experts said.

cricket Updated: Sep 03, 2010 00:14 IST

The three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of a global storm over betting allegations are highly unlikely to face criminal charges, legal experts said.

"One of the massive problems in any sport is defining how you actually define what is happening as criminal," Neill Blundell, the partner and head of the fraud group at the law firm Eversheds, who acted for one of the defendants in the Kieren Fallon case, said. In 2004 jockey Fallon had been famously accused of underperforming when the horse he rode was overtaken in the final straight at Lingfield Park Racecourse.

"What they often have difficulty doing is evidentially linking what is going on with the betting. If all you've got is one person saying certain things, it can be very difficult to link that behaviour to what is going on on the pitch, even if it seems logical to do so."

Blundell, who represented Fallon's co-defendant Miles Rodgers against charges of conspiracy to defraud, said the police and prosecutors would tread carefully following a string of high-profile cases in which they had failed to make charges stick.

"Proving that link beyond a reasonable doubt is very difficult to do. What might appear strong evidence initially can be very difficult for a law enforcement agency. As has been proved by other similar cases, proving guilt and making evidence admissible can be very difficult."

Others sports integrity experts said that because it appeared no bet had actually been placed, it was difficult to see how a charge of conspiracy to defraud or the untested offence of cheating introduced in the 2005 Gambling Act could be made to stick against the players.

With the players unlikely to face criminal charges, there is greater onus on the next move of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit.