Hair offered to quit for $500,000
Darrell Hair offered to resign as a member of the ICC's Elite Umpires Panel in return for a payment of $500,000, Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, told a press conference near Lord's.
Speed said Hair's resignation offer was forwarded to Doug Cowie, the ICC's umpire manager. A copy of that letter was also made available to the Pakistan Cricket Board.
In the letter, Hair asked for "a one-off payment to compensate for the loss of future earnings and retainer payments over the next four years, which I believe would have been the best years I have to offer ICC and world umpiring."
Speed said that he was shocked and "thought it was a silly letter." He continued: "This issue has been marked by a series of unfortunate and entirely avoidable overreactions," adding that he believed that Hair did not have any malicious intent.
"I am confident, as is David Richardson (the ICC's general manager - cricket), who has been intimately involved in these matters, that Darrell had no dishonest, underhand or malicious intent. He was seeking to find a solution that was in the interests of the game."
Despite the revelations, Speed said that Hair had not been suspended and no action had so far been taken against him. But he did not rule out action.
"I have said to him that he is not sacked, he is not suspended, and he has not been charged," Speed said. "I also said to him that I didn't guarantee that each of those three positions would be maintained indefinitely."
In a statement released later, Speed added: "We realise the disclosure of this correspondence makes Darrell's situation extremely sensitive. We have made available to him a range of support services including security advice, counselling and media management to assist him at this time."
Speed admitted that he was surprised by Hair's letter and consulted three lawyers independently before making the contents of the letter public. "When I received the letters I was extremely surprised by the content, as was David. I was concerned as to how I should deal with it and in part whether I was required to disclose the contents.
"We received three separate and independent legal opinions. They offered the unanimous view that the ICC was required to disclose the correspondence as it was material or relevant to matters that might be raised in the Code of Conduct hearing of Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq.
"Although we are certain they are not the product of dishonest, underhand or malicious intent and believe the contents played no part in Darrell's decision-making during the fourth Test, they could be read as such and may well be interpreted that way if they had emerged in the future.
Speed said he was distressed that the issue had created lot of speculation and misinformation in the media as well as allegations of racial bias. "This issue has created unprecedented media and public issue... There is a huge amount of misinformation, speculation and conjecture in different parts of the world. There have been accusations of racism.
"It involves two separate issues. Did the Pakistan team change the ball in an illegal manner? Secondly, when Pakistan refused to take the field, did that bring the game into disrepute? They are cricket issues. The ICC Code of Conduct provides a mechanism to dispense justice on cricket issues and that's the process we are trying to achieve here."
The letter, a copy of which was released to the media, quoted Hair as saying that he was willing to relinquish the umpire's job from August 31. "I am prepared to retire/stand down/relinquish my position on the elite panel to take effect from August 31, 2006. This payment is to be the sum of $500,000, details of which must be kept confidential by both parties.
"ICC may announce the retirement in anyway they wish but I would prefer a simple "lifestyle choice" as this was the very reason I moved from Australia to settle in the UK three years ago."
Percy Sonn, the ICC president, hoped the disclosure of the correspondence represented a point in time after which everyone could once again go forward and focus on playing matters rather than intrigue.
"Ever since last Sunday this ongoing situation has been marked by a succession of unfortunate and entirely avoidable over-reactions," he said.
"What we need now is for everyone to try and switch their attention to on-field matters once more.
The ICC executive board will meet in Dubai next week to discuss the situation and also to fix a date for the Code of Conduct hearing.