Spot-fixing controversy September 3, 2010

Pakistan trio questioned by police

Cricinfo staff

The three Pakistan players at the centre of the spot-fixing controversy were questioned by police in London until late Friday evening, though no charges were laid against them. It is believed that alleged phone interactions between the players and Mazhar Majeed formed part of the quizzing of all three players. The money found in some of the players' rooms is also understood to have been the subject of the queries.

"At no time were they placed under arrest, they were free to leave at any time and they have answered all of the questions that were put to them and have been released without charge or conditions," their local lawyer Elizabeth Robertson said.

The day began early for the trio, who have been provisionally suspended by the ICC over their alleged involvement in the controversy that engulfed the fourth Test at Lord's between England and Pakistan. Mohammad Amir, the 18-year-old fast bowler, was the first player to be questioned at the Kilburn police station in North London by the Metropolitan police officials, arriving at around 9am.

He was followed in the afternoon by Mohammad Asif, before Salman Butt, the Pakistan captain, was questioned. The session ended nearly 12 hours later. The PCB's legal advisor Taffazul Rizvi and Robertson were present through the three sessions. It is believed that the police will now contact the players again only when they need to.

"The players have informed the police that the man was their agent, but they had no knowledge about his illegal activities," Rizvi told private television channels in Pakistan. "They [players] all went to record statements voluntarily to the police station."

The criminal investigation is separate from the one that the ICC and the ACSU are carrying out, though evidence has been shared. The ICC suspended the players on Thursday under Article 2 of their anti-corruption code believing that they had sufficient evidence to do so. The move drew a sharp reaction from the top Pakistan diplomat in London, Wajid Shamsul Hasan.

Rizvi said the the three players were issued individual notices by the ICC. "We will just monitor what happens at the appeals, but they have to contest it on their own."

A tough day for Amir got worse with the news that he had been removed from the list of nominees for the ICC's emerging player of the year award, for which he was a favourite.

The allegations against the players revolve around an undercover operation by the News of the World, during which a 35-year-old man, Mazhar Majeed, claimed he had paid Asif and Amir to bowl no-balls to order and that Butt was also involved.

Rizvi told ESPNcricinfo that the option of legal action against the NOTW by the PCB remains if the players are proven innocent, which is what the Pakistan High Commissioner to the UK had said. He denied reports that the PCB was threatening to sue the ICC over the suspensions.

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