Police find cash in Pakistan cricketers' rooms amid bribery charges

Several Pakistani cricketers were found with large quantities of bank notes in their London hotel rooms by police investigating claims of a betting scam run by a middleman who boasted that he controlled up to seven players and could arrange for international matches to be fixed.

Scotland Yard detectives yesterday questioned Mazhar Majeed, a 35-year-old agent, about allegations that he accepted £150,000 in cash from undercover News of the World reporters posing as a gambling syndicate. Last night he was bailed without charge.

The police investigation, which led to officers confiscating the mobile phones of three Pakistan players including the team's captain Salman Butt in a late-night sweep on Saturday, raises the possibility of members of an international cricket team being arrested and facing prosecution in Britain before the tourists leave after the final game of their summer tour on 22 September.

Detectives took statements from Butt, the bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif, and the wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal after Mr Majeed was seen on film to give precise details of when three "no-balls" would be delivered by Aamer and Asif during the Test match at Lord's that ended yesterday. Each of the no-balls was then delivered by the two bowlers exactly as Mr Majeed had predicted.

Television footage showed Aamer, who was yesterday named the Pakistani man of the series, bowl two of the no-balls by stepping comfortably beyond the crease, prompting pundits to comment on the unusually clear nature of the infringements. But other events predicted by Mr Majeed to the NOTW team, such as an over in which Butt would deliberately fail to score a run, failed to materialise.

On a sombre day for world cricket which saw England complete a hollow Test match victory against Pakistan, the dejected Pakistani players lasted barely 90 minutes batting as they slumped to an innings defeat. They left Lord's after their heaviest-ever Test defeat and under the cloud of the latest allegations of corruption to hit their team.

Yawar Saeed, the Pakistan team manager, said he was "not delighted" at the claims, adding: "The allegations are allegations. We are disappointed with them but we should still like to wait until the investigations are over."

Asked whether he would expect any player found to have committed wrongdoing to be punished, Mr Saeed added: "If anybody is guilty he is guilty and should be punished."

It is understood that the Pakistan team and its management first knew of the claims after a spectacular Pakistan collapse in the field on Saturday. Mr Saeed received a phone call at the team's hotel in Swiss Cottage, north London, at about 7.30pm telling him that two police officers were waiting to see him. Police spent two hours searching rooms, including that of Mr Butt and several players, before confiscating the phones of the captain and Aamer and Asif. The Independent understands that officers also found large numbers of bank notes in the rooms of unnamed players which exceeded the daily maintenance payment made to the cricketers by their employers. It is not known if these bank notes relate to the allegations.

The NOTW investigation claimed that Mr Majeed, a property developer and keen cricketer who became involved with the Pakistan team in 2006 by setting up sponsorship deals in Britain for several players, took a "deposit" of £10,000 in cash for distribution to players he allegedly controls. The agent, who lives in a £1m house in Croydon, Surrey, said he used BlackBerry mobile phones which he changed on a regular basis to communicate with the cricketers.

Gambling on no-balls and other apparently insignificant quirks in cricket is the subject of a lucrative practice known as "spot fixing" or "fancy fixing" in which punters across India and South-east Asia wager sums in real time on the minutiae of a game. The one-time betting sideshow has increased in popularity since an attempt by the International Cricket Council (ICC) to crack down on match fixing.

Last month, Rashid Latif, a former Pakistan captain and an adviser to the ICC on tackling corruption, told the Cricinfo website: "Focusing on small events within games rather than entire games gained prominence when the heat of match fixing got to be too much for bookies. There are clever ways to manipulate this and maximise your profits if players are involved."

During secretly recorded discussions, Mr Majeed, who claimed to have set up Swiss bank accounts to pay fees to players, said it had already been agreed that Pakistan would lose one of its one-day internationals against England.

Azhar Majeed, Mr Majeed's brother, who is also a cricket agent, denied the claims against Mazhar, saying: "I thought it was just rubbish." Pakistani team officials said they had warned their players not to meet the Majeed brothers in their hotel rooms during this summer's tour of England.

In a joint statement with English and Pakistani domestic cricket boards, the ICC said it was assisting police with their investigation, adding: "No players nor team officials have been arrested in relation to this incident."

Lord's reaction: 'My friends have been texting me, telling me to boo'

The verdict of Dr Asim Safdar, one of many Pakistan cricket fans who formed part of a relatively sparse crowd at Lord's yesterday, was damning. "They need to cancel the one-day series, cancel the Twenty20s, and give all the spectators their money back," he said. "I've got two tickets for one of the one-day games. I'm selling them on eBay, even if they make a loss. I just want to get rid of them. And I'm not going to get up in the middle of the night to watch them play in the World Cup next year. I'm fed up with it."

The final session of the fourth Test match was suddenly charged with less sporting tension perhaps than any ever played at the home of cricket. "It's always Pakistan," said Dr Safdar's friend Dr Asad Saleemi. "These things seem to follow them around. The team needs to be suspended from international cricket. The players concerned must be given life bans. We're doctors. If we did something like this, we'd be struck off."

Around the bars and food stands, the allegations in the News of the World overshadowed everything. "My friends have been texting me telling me to boo the team," said Dr Safdar, as the final wicket tumbled. "You see. Was that fixed? Is he trying? You don't know now do you? I spend so much time and money following the team: what's the point?"

"People in Pakistan are going through such turmoil," said Dr Saleemi. "And then there's these guys, who are supposed to be international representatives, pocketing huge sums of money. People have come to expect it from the crooked politicians, but cricket is the dream of every kid from a poor background. They are seen as heroes."

England fans were equally unimpressed. "It makes a farce of the whole game," said Alex Goldsmith. "It dilutes the magnificent achievements of the England players earlier in the game." His father, Luke Goldsmith, was more forgiving. Aamer is only 18, he pointed out. If the bowler turns out to be guilty, he may have had a reason to behave like that. "Has he or his family been threatened by some unsavoury character? You just don't know."

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
10 best girls' summer dresses

Frock chick: 10 best girls' summer dresses

Get them ready for the holidays with these cool and pretty options 
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil