Mervyn Westfield charged with fraud
Mervyn Westfield, the former Essex fast bowler, has been charged with conspiracy to defraud over claims he deliberately bowled wides as part of a spot-betting scam during a Pro40 match against Durham last season.
The decision to prosecute him was announced by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) , a week after former Pakistan legspinner Danish Kaneria was cleared in the same investigation. ESPNcricinfo understands the initial information for the investigation was provided by a team-mate within the Essex dressing-room.
"We are very saddened by the news that Mervyn has been charged by police," an Essex statement said. "We have not been privy to any of the evidence collected by the authorities which is why no action was taken against the player whilst the enquiries were ongoing. Clearly the police now feel they have sufficient evidence to proceed.
"A decision was taken some weeks ago that Mervyn's playing contract was not to be renewed with the club for 2011. This decision was made purely on cricketing grounds and was not influenced in any way by the ongoing inquiry. He leaves the employment of the club on September 30, 2010. The club will not be making any further comment on this matter."
Investigators allege Westfield "agreed to bowl his first over in such a way as to allow a certain number of runs to be scored". That centres on the use of deliberate wides and no-balls. During the match under investigation, Westfield conceded 60 runs in seven overs, with four wides and two no-balls. It was screened live on Sky TV around the world.
Antony Swift, of the CPS, said Westfield would appear at City of London Magistrates' Court next Thursday (September 23). "I have advised that Mervyn Westfield should be charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud for intentionally playing other than to the best of his ability, contrary to his contractual obligations."
"I have made this decision after careful consideration of a file of evidence from Essex police. There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Westfield and it is in the public interest to do so."
The offence of conspiracy to defraud, under the Criminal Justice Act 1987, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.