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West Indies reject security

The West Indies team has asked for police guards to be withdrawn following a row over women guests in hotel rooms of players.

india Updated: Sep 24, 2002 14:19 IST

The West Indies cricket team has asked for police guards to be withdrawn following a row over women guests in hotel rooms of players during the ongoing Champions Trophy, officials said Tuesday.

Police however refused to pull out their men assigned to guard the West Indians, insisting the safety of the team was their responsibility unless the International Cricket Council (ICC) called for a withdrawal.

"Our brief is to provide security to the team as well as to enforce the access control guidelines set out by the ICC as part of efforts to crack down on match fixing," a senior police officer said.

The West Indies team told police that since they were knocked out of the tournament there was no need to have security for them.

Carl Hooper's men are booked at the deluxe Taj Samudra hotel till October 1 when they leave for India for a seven-week tour.

The ICC sought police protection for all teams taking part not so much to protect players, but as a safeguard against match-fixing.

The West Indies team manager Rickey Skerritt on Monday accused police bodyguards of "high-handed and authoritative" behaviour after a move to crack down on women entering hotel rooms of players.

Police said in a letter to the ICC that three women were found in the rooms of Skerritt and his computer operator, Garfield Smith, in violation of the strict ICC access control rules.

The tight regulations were aimed at preventing bookmakers or their agents coming into contact with the players taking part in the mini-world cup tournament.

Defiant Skerritt said visitors to his suite were "persons of impeccable character and of a standing in society" and that such persons will continue to be welcome to visit his suite.

"Our client, since his arrival in Sri Lanka, has repeatedly complained to the ICC's security officials about the behaviour and attitude of certain security personnel, assigned to the team hotel, who have been high handed, authoritative and officious in acting well beyond their scope of duty," Skerritt's law firm said.

"Our client has also had to admonish certain media personnel who were attempting to vilify certain members of the West Indian team and invade their privacy," the firm said in a letter to a local newspaper which published a report Monday on the police complaint against Skerritt to the ICC.

"The insinuation that three prostitutes were found in the rooms of our client and his colleague, Garfield Smith is false, mischievous and malicious."

The police report to the ICC gave the names of the three women who were found in the rooms of the two men and said a probe was underway to check if the women had a criminal record or were linked to bookies.

More than 300 plain-clothed police are being deployed for the largely covert operations during the tournament, officials said. This is in addition to uniformed police for usual crowd control at match venues in the capital.

The Champions Trophy, featuring all the 10 Test-playing nations and minnows Kenya and Holland, has reached the semi-final stage for which Australia, India, South Africa and hosts Sri Lanka have qualified.

First Published: Sep 24, 2002 14:19 IST