Mazhar Majeed, the agent behind the Pakistan cricket betting scam that rocked the sport, yesterday lost a legal challenge against his conviction. British-based Majeed, 36, was sentenced in November to two years and eight months in jail after pleading guilty to conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to make corrupt payments.
Former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt, and fast bowlers Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif were also jailed for their roles in fixing elements of the August 2010 Test match against England at Lord’s. The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Igor Judge, sitting with two other judges at the Court of Appeal in London, rejected the challenge. Former Essex county player Mervyn Westfield also lost an unrelated separate challenge against his conviction.
The appeals were heard together as they raised the same point in law: that the offences the men were charged with did not reflect the facts alleged. Westfield, 24 — the first county cricketer in England to be prosecuted for spot-fixing — was sentenced to four months in prison in February and has since been released. He had admitted a charge of accepting or obtaining a corrupt payment to bowl in a way that would allow the scoring of runs, relating to a match between Durham and Essex in September 2009. The legal challenges centred on the interpretation of gambling and betting legislation.
Lord Judge, who is the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, said both Majeed and Westfield had pleaded guilty on the basis of rulings by their trial judges on legal issues relating to the scope of the alleged offences. “The appellants contend that these rulings were wrong. If they were wrong, the appeals against conviction must be allowed and a retrial would be ordered,” he said. “The rulings... were right and these appeals against convictions are dismissed,” he concluded in the judgment.
‘Betting is not new’
Explaining the judgment, Judge said: “For cricket, betting is not new. It has, however, become multi-faceted. Nowadays it is possible to place bets not only on the final outcome of a match, but on particular passages of play, such as how many runs will be scored or wickets taken in an over, or indeed on individual events during the course of an over or passage of play.”