Verdict expected today in Lord's spot-fixing trial

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The Independent Online

The jury in the trial of former Pakistan captain Salman Butt and his team-mate Mohammad Asif will resume their deliberations at Southwark Crown Court this morning.

The six men and six women have listened to 17 days of evidence in which the prosecution have claimed that Butt and Asif conspired with Mohammad Amir, a third member of the Pakistan team, and Mazhar Majeed, their British agent, to bowl three deliberate no-balls at prearranged times during the fourth Test against England at Lord's last summer.

Butt and Asif are charged with conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments, which carry custodial sentences. Both deny the charges.

The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, finished summing-up the case yesterday and instructed the jury to reach an unanimous verdict.

He said: "The only satisfactory verdict in a criminal trial is a unanimous verdict. I do not want to hear anything about majority decisions at the moment."

He also told the jury: "You may take as much time as you wish. Within reason."

In evidence the court had heard how Majeed was caught in a sting by the News of the World journalist Mazhar Mahmood during the Lord's Test.

In return for £140,000 in cash, it was claimed that Majeed agreed to fix three no-balls during the match for the journalist, who was posing as an Indian businessman with links to illegal gambling organisations in the Far East.

Security experts working for the ICC, the sport's global governing body, estimate the illegal gambling market on cricket, which covers India – where all betting on cricket is illegal – the Middle East, London and the Far East, is worth an annual $50bn (£31bn).

In a late-night meeting the day before the Lord's Test began, it was alleged that Majeed promised that Asif would deliver a no-ball.

On a rain-curtailed opening day Asif no-balled the sixth ball of the game's 10th over, as predicted by Majeed to Mahmood.A cricket statistician giving evidence during the pair's trial said that the odds of predicting the course of events was around 1.5 million to one.