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News

Speed claims rebels' letter undermines inquiry

Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, has been remarkably forthright in branding the letter sent on behalf of the remaining 12 Zimbabwe rebels 'a schoolboy attempt to manipulate public opinion in your favour'

Wisden Cricinfo staff
22-Jun-2005


Malcolm Speed: not one to mince words © Getty Images
Malcolm Speed, the ICC chief executive, has been remarkably forthright in branding a letter sent on behalf of the remaining 12 Zimbabwe rebels "a schoolboy attempt to manipulate public opinion in your favour."
The letter, from Chris Venturas, the lawyer for the group of disaffected former Zimbabwe players, received widespread media coverage over the weekend. It highlighted concerns about how the ICC's inquiry into racism allegations against the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) was conducted - particularly the way Norman Arendse, the ZCU's lawyer, was allowed to adopt a confrontational approach, and how witnesses were not given the chance of giving evidence outside Zimbabwe, where there would have been less chance for intimidation.
But Speed indicated that the inquiry itself gave the opportunity to Venturas to submit any evidence he had to substantiate the allegations of racism, and that any failure to do so had been Venturas's responsibility.
"These allegations [of racism] are amongst the gravest claims that can be made against an individual or an institution," wrote Speed in an uncompromising open letter to Venturas today. "The process that the ICC put in place has provided you and your clients with repeated opportunities, beyond a single hearing in Zimbabwe, to provide this essential evidence to support your claims. Your letter is premature and pre-empts the finding of the panel. The decision to provide it to the media is another schoolboy attempt to manipulate public opinion in your favour to the detriment of finding a solution.
"In reading your letter I am dismayed that much of your concern now seems to be about allegations, witnesses or evidence that you have failed to disclose. Clearly, this material should have been in your written submission to allow both the panel and the ZCU to understand the nature of the allegations and what evidence there was to support them.
"If you have failed in your obligation to provide this material, it is not the fault of the panel or the responsibility of the ICC. The ICC and the panel provided the opportunity; it is up to you to take it. In your letter, you also now claim that there were several witnesses who were prepared to testify in front of the ZCU directors. With the greatest of respect, what is the use of telling me that now?"
Speed continued in similarly hard-hitting fashion: "This information should have been provided to the panel when you were standing in front of it in Zimbabwe only two weeks ago. What is clear from the panel's comments during and following the hearing is that both parties made the hearing unnecessarily difficult, and I note in particular the concerns they expressed about your conduct and the impact it had on allowing the proceedings to continue."
And he concluded: "It is unfortunate that I have had to make the contents of this letter public, but given the circumstances I feel I have been left with little choice."
When he wrote the letter, Speed had not read the panel's report, but said that he would do so with an open mind in advance of the forthcoming ICC Board meeting in Lahore. But the tone of his comments suggests that he has lost patience with the attitude of the rebels, which can only be good news for the ZCU.