17 Oct 2011

Agent ‘abused’ Pakistani cricketer’s trust

A sports agent is accused of abusing the trust of the former Pakistani Test cricket captain during a match-fixing trial in London.

Former Pakistan cricket captain Salman Butt arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London to face match-fixing allegations

Salman Butt, pictured left, has been named by his former agent Mazhar Majeed as one of several players allegedly involved in a betting scam to fix games during the 2010 tour of England, Southwark Crown Court was told.

The court heard that an undercover News of the World reporter investigating cricket match-fixing paid Mr Majeed £150,000 to rig games.

Ali Bajwa QC, defending Mr Butt, said: “We say Salman Butt only finds himself here on trial accused of these charges because of the words of his former friend and agent, Mazhar Majeed.

“We say Mazhar Majeed has grossly abused the trust that Mr Butt placed in him by naming him, Mr Butt, to the journalist as a person involved in match fixing.”

Cricket agent Mazhar Majeed in London

Prosecutors allege that Mr Majeed, pictured right, conspired with Mr Butt and fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif to deliver three deliberate no-balls during a Lord’s Test between Pakistan and England in return for bribes.

Mr Bajwa explained why Mr Butt had told the police in an interview that the fact that the no-balls were bowled exactly when Majeed said they would be was a “freakish coincidence”.

He told the court: “That is not, and has never been, part of Mr Butt’s defence. We suggest to you that Mr Butt advanced that as a possible explanation, not as a statement of fact.

“And that he did so out of a stubborn hope and belief that his bowler Mohammad Amir and possibly his other bowler Mohammad Asif, two of the best bowlers in world cricket, were not involved in any wrong-doing.”

Mr Butt and Mr Asif deny conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments.

It is Salman Butt’s case that he did not know of the existence of a conspiracy to bowl no-balls at Lord’s. Ali Bajwa QC

Mr Bajwa told the jury: “I anticipate that everyone in this case will agree that there was at the very least a criminal conspiracy between Mazhar Majeed and Mohammad Amir. It is Salman Butt’s case that he did not know of the existence of a conspiracy to bowl no-balls at Lord’s and he would never have allowed himself to become party to it.”

£1.2m earnings

Giving evidence, Mr Butt said he had earned £1.2m from cricket over seven years, £750,000 from 2007-10.

Explaining why police found nine mobile phone sim cards in his hotel room after the match-fixing allegations were made, Butt said it was cheaper to buy local phone cards when he was on tour overseas.

The cricketer also said he brought about $12,000 in cash with him to England in 2010 to buy a special edition Breitling watch.