Snooker betting investigation dropped

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The Independent Online

The Scottish Crown Counsel have found insufficient evidence to justify a criminal prosecution following an investigation into the 2008 UK Championship match between Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett, the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association have confirmed in a statement.

World Snooker were alerted by bookmakers to unusual betting patterns before the match on December 15, 2008, with large sums being staked on the match finishing 9-3.

The match did end 9-3 after Burnett missed a black at the end of the 12th frame which would have cut his deficit to 8-4. Both players denied any wrongdoing and pledged to comply with the investigation.

Strathclyde Police sent their report on the case to the Scottish Crown Counsel, but they have now decided there is insufficient evidence to support a successful conviction.

The WPBSA have confirmed they will now launch their own inquiry into the matter.

The organisation said in a statement: "Following a full and comprehensive investigation into a match at the UK Championship in December 2008, the Scottish Crown Counsel has decided that there is insufficient evidence to justify a criminal prosecution.

"This case has now been referred to the WPBSA for consideration of disciplinary proceedings against the two members who contested the match, Stephen Maguire and Jamie Burnett."

WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson said: "We are treating this case very seriously. We will now be given access to the evidence connected with the case, and our disciplinary committee will review that evidence thoroughly."

The integrity of the sport has been under the spotlight following a series of incidents in recent years.

Australian player Quinten Hann was banned for eight years after being found guilty of throwing frames in 2006, while four-time world champion John Higgins was suspended last year as World Snooker investigated a News of the World report that he had discussed the possibility of fixing frames in return for money.

Higgins was cleared of match-fixing last September but was given a six-month ban - backdated to May 2010 - and fined £75,000 after being found guilty of disrepute for failing to report the approach to fix matches.

South African Peter Francisco was banned for five years in 1995 after an investigation into betting patterns surrounding his World Championship match against Jimmy White.