Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir lose appeals against spot-fixing jail sentences


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The Independent Online

Two disgraced Pakistan cricketers given custodial terms for their parts in a spot-fixing scam that rocked world sport lost challenges against their sentences today.

The decision was announced by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with two other judges.

Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir were not present at the Court of Appeal in London for the decision.

Ex-Test captain Butt, 27, was jailed for 30 months on November 3 for his role as the "orchestrator" of a plot to bowl deliberate no-balls in the Lord's Test against England last summer.

Amir, 19, who had been tipped to become one of the all-time great fast bowlers, was detained for six months in a young offenders institution after he admitted bowling two intentional no-balls at Lord's.

The judges rejected a plea that Butt's sentence was "manifestly excessive" and argument that Amir should have received a suspended sentence.

Lord Judge said the court had to make clear that what the cricketers did was "not simply a matter of breaking the rules of the game" and therefore subject to internal discipline and regulation.

"It is also criminal conduct of a very serious kind which must be marked with a criminal sanction," he said.

Earlier, Ali Bajwa QC, for Butt, argued that his sentence was "out of proportion to the seriousness of the offence that was committed".

Although serious, it was at the "lower end of the scale" of such offences.

Mr Bajwa described Butt as a broken man in a state of "ruin and disgrace".

He told the appeal judges: "The very fact of conviction and imprisonment amounted to exceptional punishment for Mr Butt."

Henry Blaxland QC, for Amir, had urged the court to impose a suspended sentence of a length that would enable his immediate release.

As well as the sentences imposed on Butt and Amir by a judge at London's Southwark Crown Court, former world number two Test bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, received a 12-month prison term for delivering one of the fraudulent no-balls.

Mazhar Majeed, 36, the London-based sports agent at the heart of the fixing scandal, was jailed for two years and eight months.

Lord Judge described it as a "notorious" case in which the three cricketers, who had the "distinction and privilege" of representing their country, had taken bribes.

The corruption was "carefully prepared".

He added: "It was not set up on the spur of the moment and it was not the result of some temptation to which either appellant succumbed, in effect, on the spur of the moment."

The judge continued: "These three cricketers betrayed their team, they betrayed the country which they had the honour to represent and betrayed the sport that had given them their distinction - and of course betrayed all the very many followers of the game throughout the world."