Property developer accepting £150,000 secretly filmed
The visiting Pakistan cricket team was on Sunday at the centre of a police investigation into allegations of match-fixing as a London-based Pakistani property developer was arrested after being secretly filmed accepting £150,000 from an undercover reporter. The journalist posed himself as a middleman for a betting syndicate ahead of the Pakistan-England Test match at the Lord's on Thursday.
Pakistan lost the match by an innings and 225 runs on Sunday – and with that the four-match series 3-1.
Footage from the film shows Mazhar Majeed (35) counting the money while telling the reporter of the News of the World that Pakistani bowlers would bowl three no-balls on the first day of the match on Thursday. Next day, three no-balls were bowled by Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif exactly at the times he predicted.
The Scotland Yard confirmed Majeed's arrest on suspicion of “conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.''
“Following information received from the News of the World, we have... arrested a 35-year-old man on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers,” it said in a statement.
Pakistan team manager Yawar Saeed said four players, including captain Salman Butt, were interviewed by Scotland Yard officers. “Scotland Yard detectives visited the team hotel where they took statements from [captain] Salman Butt, Mohammad Aamir, Mohammad Asif and Kamran Akmal,” he said.
The mobile phones of Aamir, Asif and Butt were taken away by the police.
In a joint statement, the International Cricket Council (ICC), the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) denied speculation that any player or team official was arrested.
According to News of the World, Pakistani players were bribed to bowl no-balls.
“In the most sensational sporting scandal ever, bowlers Mohammad Aamir and Mohammad Asif delivered three blatant no-balls to order,'' it said in a front-page splash under the heading “Caught: Match-fixer trousers £150K as he rigs the England Test at Lord's.''
Majeed reportedly alleged that Butt and seven other Pakistani players were involved in match-fixing.
In a conversation, secretly filmed in a West London hotel, Majeed is seen and heard telling the reporter, “I'm going to give you three no-balls to prove to you firstly that this is what's happening. They've all been organised, okay? This is exactly what's going to happen, you're going to see these three things happen. I'm telling you, if you play this right you're going to make a lot of money, believe me!”
The newspaper said: “Having already trousered a £10,000 upfront deposit, which he insisted had gone to the stars, Majeed ... eagerly counted out the £140,000 balance in bundles of crisp £50 notes... In return for their suitcase of money Majeed then calmly detailed what would happen – and when – on the field of play next day, as a taster of all the lucrative information he could supply in future.''
At one stage Majeed reportedly boasted that “absolutely millions, millions” could be made by paying him up to £450,000 a time for information on matches, then placing bets on the fixed outcome. About the players, he said: “These poor boys need to. They're paid peanuts.”
Butt told reporters that he and his team-mates had “given our best.” “I would say that everybody in this team has given 100 per cent,” he said.