Cricket match-fixers 'must be eradicated'

 

Corruption in cricket must be eradicated to enable the game to survive as a "truly competitive sport", the country's top judge stressed today.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge sent out his hard-hitting message as he rejected challenges against "spot-fixing" convictions by a cricketer and a sports agent.

Former Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield - the first county cricketer in England to be prosecuted for spot-fixing - and Mazhar Majeed, 36, from Croydon, south London, were jailed in separate cases.

They claimed their prosecutions were legally flawed, but Lord Judge, sitting with two other judges at the Court of Appeal in London, ruled that their convictions were safe.

Lord Judge said: "These otherwise unconnected appeals against conviction arise in the same notorious context, 'spot fixing' in cricket matches.

"For cricket betting is not new. It has, however, become multi-faceted.

"Nowadays it is possible to place bets not only on the final outcome of a match, but on particular passages of play, such as how many runs will be scored or wickets taken in an over, or indeed on individual events during the course of an over or passage of play.

"Cricket is widely televised, not only in the country where the match is being played, but throughout the cricket-playing world, and indeed further afield.

"The prizes for successful gambling can be very great, and the scope for corruption is therefore considerable.

"For the health, indeed the survival, of the game as a truly competitive sport, it must be eradicated."

Majeed and Westfield pleaded guilty following rulings by the trial judges on issues of law relating to the offences alleged against them.

At the Court of Appeal the men argued that the rulings were wrong - Lord Judge, Mr Justice Openshaw and Mr Justice Irwin would have ordered retrials if they had ruled in their favour.

Dismissing the appeals, Lord Judge said the rulings by the judges "were right and these appeals against conviction are dismissed".

He said: "The respective offences of conspiracy against Majeed and cheating against Westfield were properly prosecuted."

Majeed was sentenced to two years and eight months in November after pleading guilty to conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to make corrupt payments.

Westfield, now 24, from Chelmsford, Essex, was sentenced to four months in prison at the Old Bailey in February and has since been released.

He pleaded guilty to one count of accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to bowl in a way that would allow the scoring of runs.

He was paid £6,000 to bowl so that a specific number of runs would be chalked up in the first over of a match between Durham and Essex in September 2009.

As well as the jail sentence, Westfield was the subject of a confiscation order for £6,000.

In the case involving Majeed, three Pakistan cricketers also received custodial sentences at London's Southwark Crown Court over a scandal that rocked world sport.

Ex-Test captain Salman Butt was jailed for two-and-half years for his role as the "orchestrator" of a plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in the 2010 Lord's Test against England.

Mohammad Asif, the former world number two Test bowler, was sentenced to 12 months.

Mohammad Amir, who had been tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, was sentenced to six months.

All three players are serving five-year bans from cricket imposed by the International Cricket Council (ICC).

Amir and Butt failed in an attempt to have their sentences reduced at the Court of Appeal in November.

PA

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?

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