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Scotland Yard To Question Tainted Cricketers On Friday

Scotland Yard detectives will question three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of the match-fixing scandal on Friday, The Daily Telegraph reports from London.  Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif are due to be individually
PTI September 02, 2010 23:45 IST
PTI
Scotland Yard detectives will question three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of the match-fixing scandal on Friday, The Daily Telegraph reports from London. 

Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif are due to be individually interviewed under caution by police, according to sources.

They will not be arrested and are expected to attend a police station by appointment with a solicitor on Friday.

The players on Thursday said they were innocent but pulled out of the remainder of the tour in England citing mental fatigue.

The police interview will be the first time the Pakistan captain and two bowlers have formally answered the claims that no-balls were deliberately bowled during the Test match at Lord's on the orders of an alleged match-fixer, Mazhar Majeed.

Metropolitan Police detectives have been investigating the case since being handed a dossier by the News of the World on Saturday. Mr Majeed, a 35-year-old agent, was arrested immediately on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers, carrying a maximum ten year jail sentence if proved.

The mobile phones of the players were also seized in a raid on the hotel, and they gave brief statements, but were not questioned by police.

It is believed that the players will be treated as alleged suspects in the conspiracy, although this could change as the investigation progresses to them being treated as witnesses.

Butt, Asif and Amir met with the Pakistan High Commission in London on Thursday and a spokesman later said they deny claims that they were part of a spot-fixing ring.

They have not been formally suspended by the PCB but their withdrawal is the result of heavy cricketing political pressure behind the scenes.

Wajid Shamsul Hasan, the Pakistan High Commissioner, said: “They are extremely disturbed about what has happened in the past week particularly in regards to their alleged involvement in the crime. They mentioned they are entirely innocent and shall defend their innocence as such. They further maintain that on account of the mental torture that has affected them they are not in right frame of mind to play the remaining matches therefore they have asked the PCB not to consider them for the remaining matches.”

The players will remain in England and their passports are with the team manager in Taunton.

“They will go to a court of law to defend themselves,” added  Hasan. “There have been serious incidents in the past. It is the job of the Pakistan commission to support and help our nationals and this is no different.”

The Pakistan Cricket Board have come under huge pressure from the ECB over the last 24 hours after Ijaz Butt, the chairman of the PCB, said only last night “we cannot decide [about whether the three play] on the basis of allegations. Unless we charge someone, they are free to do whatever they want.”

But on Thurday  morning before the start of Pakistan's match against Somerset in Taunton, the team manager, Yawar Saeed, confirmed they would be calling up three replacements after the two Twenty20 internationals against England.

He said: “For Twenty20 matches the squad will remain as it is with 13 people but once we have played those two Twenty20 games for the ODIs subsequently we will be asking for replacements to make up the squad again. No they have not been suspended. They are still here. I can't answer anything on their behalf because investigations are being made by Scotland Yard and ICC. All I am talking about is the team I am managing.”

Giles Clarke, the chairman of the ECB, gave a brief statement in the car park at the County Ground this morning welcoming the news.

“The ECB welcomes the announcement of the Pakistan Cricket Board's squad. We look forward to an extremely competitive series full of excellent cricket. We assure fans around the county matches will be played with a competitive spirit. As chairman of the ICC's Pakistan Task Team I look forward to working with Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, and everyone involved in Pakistan cricket in taking forward cricket in Pakistan so a proper plan exists for the whole of Pakistani cricket and the many issues that address it.”