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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Spot-fixing: Butt, Amir appeals dismissed


The Lord Chief Justice has rejected the appeals of Salman Butt and Mohammad Amir against their sentences in the spot-fixing case.

The Crown Court had, on November 3, given Butt a two-and-a-half year jail term after finding him guilty of conspiracy to cheat and conspiracy to accept corrupt payments based on orchestrating no-balls against England, at Lord's, in 2010. Amir was given two six-month sentences under the same charges, to run concurrently, and is currently in detention at a young offenders' institute.

Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, called the appeal against Butt's sentence "unarguable" while regarding Amir he said: "This prodigious talent has been lost to cricket for some years. Cricket will be the poorer for it. But he was not so young that he did not appreciate what he was doing.

"The cricketers betrayed their team, their country, the sport that had given them their distinction and all the world followers of the game," the judge said. "The reality is that all the enjoyment of watching cricket will be destroyed if this was allowed to continue."

In his summing up he added: "This is a notorious and essentially simple case. It was a betting scam and they were very well rewarded."

The defence team for Butt had argued that the sentence was too severe and outlined three types of match fixing: the outcome of the game, passages of play and spot-fixing and argued that Butt was involved in the least severe of the three. The incident at The Oval, involving Butt failing to bat out a maiden over, was referenced with the judge saying it was down to the difficulties of facing the new ball rather than Butt being "repentant."

Amir's defence team had argued that his six-month sentence should be downgraded to a suspended term and that he should have been able to walk free. However, the judge read out text messages sent to Amir by a separate fixer in Pakistan.

"Butt was undoubtedly the most involved," the judge said, and a "malign influence". His duty as captain was to "stop" any whiff of corruption. He added that Justice Cooke, who presided over the original case, was fully entitled to call Butt the "orchestrator."

This, though, is not the end of the spot-fixing affair. Mohammad Asif, the third cricketer involved, is set to appeal against his conviction and sentence having changed his defence team. The three players will also appeal their ICC bans at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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