The three Pakistan cricketers facing trial as a result of the ‘spot-fix’ episode in the Lord’s Test against England last summer believe they may have been phone-hacking victims at the hands of the News of the World – but are unlikely to gain any advantage to their defence case even if they were, Inside Sport can reveal.
By Nick Harris (Daily Mail)
The legal teams for Salman Butt, who was the captain at the time of the incident, and for bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer, plan a formal request via a judge at Southwark Crown Court to discover if there is any evidence that they were hacked.
This request is expected by the end of next month. They could themselves ask the police or News International if they were hacked, and expect to be told as the owners of the closed title have vowed to clear up all cases.
But the request must come via a judge because they are involved in an ongoing court case. Even if one or more of the players had their phones hacked, however, one legal source says it would not mean the trial would collapse.
‘Contrary to what many believe, even if, hypothetically, some evidence in a case were known to be obtained illegally, it doesn’t necessarily make it inadmissible,’ said the source.
The News of the World have declined to comment. Sources say the players’ lawyers continue to ‘observe with interest’ ongoing revelations about the relationship between the paper and the police.
In a trial scheduled to start in October, the trio stand accused of a conspiracy to prearrange three no-balls at set times in the Test.
At a sporting tribunal earlier this year, they were banned, for between five and 10 years, for breaching ICC anti-corruption rules.
The players have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The Swiss-based body will not rule until criminal proceedings have finished.