Former News of the World investigations editor Mazher Mahmood has described yesterday’s Pakistan cricket team betting scam convictions as ‘a sad day for cricket but a good day for investigative journalism”.
Former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt, 27, and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, 28, where yesterday found guilty of plotting to bowl deliberate no-balls at Lords as part of a betting scam. Another bowler, Mohammad Amir, admitted the same charges before the trial began.
The prosecutions directly arose from an undercover reporting operation carried out by Mahmood for the News of the World, which carried the story on its front page in August last year.
Mahmood told Press Gazette: ‘These three players have betrayed their fans, their fellow professionals, their sport and their country.
“I hope that the cricketing authorities will take this opportunity to tackle the issue of illegal gambling in the sport and so regain the trust of millions of cricket supporters.
“Rumours of corruption in cricket had swirled around for years but it took investigative journalism to fully and finally expose it.”
Following the closure of the News of the World in July as a result of the hacking scandal, Mahmood has been taken on by the Sunday Times. Last week five men were arrested following his investigation into an alleged car insurance fraud ring for that paper.
He said: ‘I am grateful to the Sunday Times for the opportunity to continue that work [investigative journalism]. It is a newspaper with a proud tradition of exposing wrongdoing and I am pleased to now be a part of that.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my former colleagues at the News of the World for their diligence and support during this investigation. I hope, like me, that they derive some satisfaction from the fact that, as a result of these verdicts, cricket is a cleaner sport.”
A spokesperson for News International said yesterday: ‘The investigation which exposed spot fixing by Pakistani cricketers astonished the world and is to the credit of Mazher Mahmood who led the investigation for the News of the World.
“The convictions secured today are a clear example of where his professional investigative journalism has served the public interest.”