The three Pakistan cricketers at the centre of the spot-fixing scandal at the Lord's Test in August could escape criminal charges unless the Metropolitan Police prove to the Crown Prosecution Service there was a specific 'victim' in legal terms, reports The Daily Mail, London.
Pakistan's captain Salman Butt and bowlers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were all questioned by police and suspended by the ICC after a middle-man, Mazhar Majeed, provided details of three specific no-balls in return for £150,000.
Those no-balls were subsequently bowled by Asif and Amir. The Met said on September 17 that they had provided an 'initial file of evidence relating to conspiracy to defraud bookmakers to the CPS' but the CPS say they cannot decide on charges until the Met investigation is complete. Legal technicalities could prevent a charge of conspiracy to defraud bookmakers.
No legal bookmaker in Britain actually takes bets on the timing of specific no balls, so no bookmaker can have been defrauded as a result of the specific no balls in question. A general 'conspiracy to defraud' charge is possible, but the entirely separate ongoing legal action against the Essex bowler Mervyn Westfield highlights problems.
Westfield appeared in court last week charged with defrauding his club, his team-mates and fans for bowling badly in a match against Durham in September 2009.
But his lawyer was successful in gaining an adjournment on the grounds the charge itself might not be legitimate in law.
It is understood the CPS had decided against a charge relating to defrauding bookmakers because it could not specifically be proved. The Pakistan cricketers are almost certain to face multiple sporting charges from the ICC related to their activities, but criminal actions against them is less certain.