Lawyers representing the three Pakistani players and an agent accused of spot-fixing are to petition a senior judge for any evidence of phone hacking by the News of the World when it investigated the affair.
A formal request to the police for evidence of hacking is expected within the next six weeks at Southwark Crown Court in south London. If substantiated, it could be a tumultuous setback to the case against former Pakistan captain Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif and agent Mazhar Majeed.
The lawyers have said they will ask the judge to dismiss the case if it can be shown that the phones of their clients were hacked. The trial is scheduled to begin in October.
The exposé by the News of the World received worldwide attention after the newspaper alleged it paid Majeed to ensure the players delivered no-balls at predesignated times during last year's Lord's Test between England and Pakistan.
Privately, lawyers have already approached police to see if their clients appear on the list of 4,000 individuals reported to have been the victims of hacking. While most people on the list are being personally informed by officers, the players and Majeed must formally request a judge for any evidence of phone hacking because they are involved in an ongoing court case.
A legal source close to the case said: "We have serious concerns that our clients' phones have been hacked. There are only three ways that the News of the World could have got this story about the cricketers: a source within Pakistani cricket, an outside source or through phone-hacking and other illegal activities.
"We know which one seems most likely, given recent events. The most important question that we need to address is how did the News of the World investigate this story? Were the players entrapped?
"We want the court to give us the evidence to show us how the News of the World went about this story. We need to know if phone hacking or any other criminal conduct has taken place. If this comes out in the evidence given to us then we will be asking the judge to dismiss the case."
The lawyers will also ask for all evidence relating to the Metropolitan Police's handling of the case. The source added: "Both the News of the World and the Metropolitan Police have been discredited by their involvement in the phone hacking scandal. The police were handed this investigation by the News of the World. What checks did they carry out to ensure everything was done within the law?"
At a hearing of the International Cricket Council earlier this year, all three players were banned for breaching its anti-corruption code. News International refused to comment.Reuse content