Jury out in Test match-fixing trial

 

Jurors hearing the trial of two Pakistan cricketers accused of match-fixing have retired to consider their verdicts for a third day.

Former Test captain Salman Butt, 27, and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, are alleged to have plotted to bowl deliberate no-balls in last summer's Lord's Test against England.

The pair were charged after an undercover reporter recorded sports agent Mazhar Majeed, 36, boasting of how he could arrange for Pakistan players to rig games for money, London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

Over three weeks of evidence, the jury of six men and six women has heard that there are huge sums to be made by fixing cricket matches for gambling syndicates.

The allegations emerged after the News of the World's former investigations editor, Mazher Mahmood, approached Majeed in August last year pretending to be a wealthy Indian businessman seeking major international cricketers for a tournament.

After gaining the agent's confidence, the journalist broached the subject of rigging games.

Majeed claimed he had been carrying out match-fixing for two-and-a-half years, had seven players from Pakistan's national side working for him, and had made "masses and masses of money".

He told the undercover reporter that fixing part of a match would cost £50,000 to £80,000, but rigging results was much more expensive - around £400,000 for a Twenty20 game and as much as £1 million for a five-day Test.

The agent was secretly filmed accepting £150,000 in cash from the journalist as part of an arrangement to rig games.

Prosecutors allege that Butt and Asif conspired with Majeed and Pakistan fast bowler Mohammad Amir, 19, to deliver three intentional no-balls during the Lord's Test between Pakistan and England from August 26 to 29 last year.

Butt and Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

Butt told the court that Majeed asked him to become involved in fixing, but insisted he ignored the agent's requests and knew nothing about the alleged agreement to deliver no-balls at pre-arranged points in the Lord's game.

Explaining why he bowled a no-ball at Lord's precisely when the agent said he would, Asif claimed that Butt told him, "run faster, f***er", moments before his delivery.

The judge, Mr Justice Cooke, later told the 12 jurors that he would accept verdicts on which at least 10 of them agreed.

The jurors were sent home for the night and will resume their deliberations at 10am tomorrow.

PA

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