Spot-fixing controversy October 17, 2011

Butt 'not involved in any conspiracy'

Richard Sydenham at Southwark Crown Court

The lawyer of former Pakistan captain and defendant Salman Butt suggested to the jury during the alleged spot-fixing trial that there might have been a "criminal conspiracy" between tainted agent Mazhar Majeed and fast bowler Mohammad Amir - but any wrongdoing would not have included his client.

On the ninth day of the trial at Southwark Crown Court, after the prosecution closed its case, before Butt said a word his lawyer Ali Bajwa QC outlined "strong evidence" against Amir and how he allegedly colluded with Majeed and when he did bowl his now infamous no-balls "he overstepped by a considerable distance".

"There was, at the very minimum, a criminal conspiracy between Majeed and Amir," Bajwa told the jury. "Just consider the evidence. Majeed told (the undercover journalist Mazhar) Mahmood when Amir would bowl his no-balls. Then Majeed calls Amir and said we've spoken about everything before. Then the next day Amir duly bowled one of the two no-balls that had been promised. Rain prevented the other.

"On August 26 (the next day) he sent Mohammad Amir a text saying after you finish your first over, then in your third over. Mohammad Amir then in the next day bowled a no-ball off the third ball of his third over. We concede that there is strong evidence against Majeed and Amir and we also concede that there has been no sensible explanation for it."

But he asked the jury "if you do decide there was a criminal conspiracy to bowl no-balls, was Salman Butt party to that criminal conspiracy?' He added: "Salman Butt did not know of any conspiracy to bowl no-balls at Lord's.

"Are we sure there was a criminal conspiracy about the no-balls at Lord's? If so are we sure Salman Butt was party to that criminal conspiracy and are we sure Mohammad Asif was party to that crimninal conspiracy?"

Before Butt was cross-examined, Bajwa went on with his preamble, further questioning the integrity of Majeed.

"We say Salman Butt only finds himself here on trial because of words of his friend and former agent Mazhar Majeed," Bajwa told the jury. "We say Mazhar Majeed has grossly abused the trust Mr Butt showed in him."

Butt and his former team-mate Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following that Lord's Test in August last year when they allegedly conspired with Majeed, teenage fast bowler Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-planned no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.

The case continues.

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