Botham and Lamb bowled over by defeat in pounds 500,000 High Court test

Cricket's most expensive libel case has ended - with a surprise verdict. Jojo Moyes reports

Imran Khan won the most expensive libel case in cricketing history yesterday when he successfully defended himself against accusations that he had labelled former England captain Ian Botham a ball-tamperer and a racist.

Botham said, after the trial at the High Court, that he was "astonished" at the verdict of the case, the costs of which are estimated to be up to pounds 500,000.

He and fellow cricketer Allan Lamb had sued Imran, the teetotal, Oxford-educated former Pakistan captain, over an "offensive personal attack" in India Today magazine, which, they claimed, suggested that they were racist, not properly educated and of inferior social standing.

Botham alone sued over a report in the Sun which, he alleged, accused him of ball-tampering - something he says he has never done.

Imran, who denied libel, said his words were taken out of context and he was only trying to defend himself against allegations of cheating that were made against him in a previous newspaper report.

As the jury returned two majority verdicts in his favour, after five hours of deliberation, Imran appeared stunned. His pregnant wife Jemima, who had accompanied him throughout the two-and-a-half-week trial, appeared to be as surprised as he was, and as she left the court said the result was "amazing", telling her mother: "I'm such a cynic". Outside the court Imran said he was "overjoyed" by the result and paid tribute to the support of his wife.

"I thank the Almighty, that whatever I've been saying for the past two years, that I've been vindicated, that I never called anyone a racist, under-class or cheat," he said.

Imran believed that the result vindicated Pakistani cricketers, who he said had been called cheats, and he added that he hoped the issue of ball-tampering would be laid to rest once and for all.

He also said he was sad that the case had come to court and that he felt "sad" for Botham. Imran, his wife, and her family were said to be celebrating last night.

Imran's solicitor, Howard Cohen, said he was "absolutely delighted" and that Imran would pay only a "very small proportion" of the costs which, he said, for Botham and Lamb, were estimated at more than pounds 300,000 for last week alone.

In a brief press conference held outside his solicitor's offices shortly after the case ended, Botham expressed feelings of astonishment over the result, which had appeared to be heading in his favour last week, when Imran withdrew a plea of justification with regard to the allegations of ball-tampering.

"I'm a little confused as to how it went against us," Botham said.

"If you had been there two-and-a-half weeks, then I think it's a conclusion you are entitled to come to and it's one I came to," he added. Botham said he had fought for his dignity and honesty and added that he did not feel that the verdict had affected his reputation.

"Imran Khan had to withdraw justification and therefore had to admit I was not a cheat which is why I'm finding it confusing. I'm sure other people will find it confusing as well," he added.

On the issue of the costs, Botham said he had not had time to think about the implications, but he added: "Life goes on. I'll just have to do a couple more road shows to pay for it."

Allan Lamb, who also professed himself "astonished" said: "The jury's got to make their decision and we've got to accept it." Asked his opinion of Imran, he said: "Still the same".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence