Spot-fixing controversy March 17, 2011

Pakistan players to go on trial from May 20

ESPNcricinfo staff

The three Pakistan cricketers accused of spot-fixing in a Test match against England will stand trial from May 20, a British judge has ordered. Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir, and the agent Mazhar Majeed, will be tried in Southwark Crown Court in London on charges of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments.

The four accused were present - dressed in suits and looking relaxed - at the City of Westminster Magistrates' court on Thursday for the hearing to set the trial date. The cricketers were given unconditional bail and Majeed was told to surrender his passport and not apply for international travel documents.

The prosecution objected to unconditional bail being granted but the players' lawyers told the court they would attend all future hearings and, though sureties of up to £50,000 were offered to secure their bail, the judge, Howard Riddle, said it was unnecessary.

He warned all four to ensure they attend Southwark Crown Court saying: "There is no doubt the allegations are very serious and I know you recognise that." Noting all four were of good character, Riddle said the men's reputations were of the "utmost importance" to them.

The cricketers were previously funded by the Pakistan Cricket Board but, according to Sky Sports, their lawyer confirmed outside court that had ended.

Accepting corrupt payments is an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906 and carries a maximum sentence of seven years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine. Cheating is an offence under Section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005, carrying a maximum sentence of two years' imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

They players and their agent were charged after being questioned by Scotland Yard detectives over the alleged scandal in the Test at Lord's last August, following accusations by the News of the World tabloid newspaper.

The three players have already been banned by the ICC, which held a separate inquiry, for periods ranging from five to ten years. All three have, however, already filed appeals against their bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.