London: Miffed with the suspension of the three Pakistani cricketers implicated in the ‘spot-fixing’ scandal, the PCB threatened to sue the ICC if the players are found innocent even as the country’s diplomats struck a discordant note with contradictory statements on the matter.
A day after Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamir were suspended by the ICC and questioned by the Scotland Yard, PCB’s legal advisor Talib Rizvi told reporters that if the trio is found innocent, the PCB would consider taking legal action against the ICC.
“I want to make it clear that the PCB will consider legal action against the ICC and other bodies if our players are found innocent because we feel the ICC has bypassed some of its own procedures in suspending the players in this case,” Rizvi said.
He also emphasised that at the moment there was no criminal investigation going on against the three players, who were released without charge by the Scotland Yard after questioning in London.
“It is just a preliminary inquiry and nothing more. They are being questioned. No investigations have been held,” he added.
Even as the controversy raged on, Pakistan’s response appeared contradictory with its High Commissioner in Britain Wajid Shamsul Hasan continuing to attack the ICC for suspending the trio but the country’s envoy to the United Nations Abdullah Haroon asking for punishment for those found guilty in the scandal.
Launching yet another scathing attack on ICC, Hasan said by dropping Aamir from the list of its’ annual awards nominees, the body has strengthened his apprehensions that “there is a rat in the whole affair”.
Hasan, who was described by an unnamed fellow diplomat as a “loose cannon”, said the removal of Aamir from the list of nominees for ICC’s ‘Emerging Player of the Year’ award violates the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.
“After the shocking, arbitrary and high-handed suspension of the three Pakistani cricketers through the ICC’s uncalled for action, nothing is coming to me as a surprise. Rather, my apprehensions that there is a rat in the whole affair are being strengthened. It is emerging as a fishy situation where pieces have now started falling in place to convince me that there is more than meet the eyes,” he said.
The Pakistani diplomat termed the ICC’s action against the tainted trio as “malafide and sinister” and said it was done to cover up its own wrongdoings.
“... ICC’s action was not only in a bad taste but was also self-serving, malafide and intriguingly sinister,” Hasan said in the statement.
But Haroon said if found guilty, the “rash and brash” youngsters should be punished.
“I think there should be an immediate due process of law and whoever is found guilty of misconduct in this should be appropriately punished,” Haroon said.
“We can’t have national icons or the standing of the nation jeopardised by rash and brash youngsters wanting to make money,” he added.
Pakistan cricket could find itself in a deeper crisis in the coming days as sources have told reporters that British tabloid ‘The News of the World’ tabloid, which broke the story about the alleged nexus between the trio and a bookie Mazhar Majeed, is likely to release more sensational information.
During the interrogation by Scotland Yard sleuths, the cricketers were questioned about the calls and text messages they exchanged with alleged bookie Mazhar Majeed and their “secret accounts” in Switzerland.
According to a report in ‘the Daily Telegraph’, Aamir spent almost five hours being quizzed by the police and he was reportedly asked about a “message he allegedly sent to Majeed.”
“Shall I do it or not?” was the text message that Aamir allegedly sent Majeed a night before sending down a deliberate no-ball in the Lord’s Test against England last week.
“They were asked about secret accounts in Swiss and British banks, which, according to the News of the World investigation, Mr Majeed said he had set up in their names,” the newspaper reported.
Elizabeth Robertson, the lawyer for the three players said, “Mohammad Aamir, Mohammad Asif and Salman Butt have been questioned under caution by the Metropolitan Police and released without charge.”
“They voluntarily attended Kilburn police station to answer questions relating to allegations published in the News of the World.
“At no time were they placed under arrest, they were free to leave at any time and they have answered all of the questions that were put to them and have been released without charge or conditions,” she added.