Cricket: No hacking role in Pakistan case, says ex-NOTW man

12th October 2011, Comments 0 comments

The former investigations editor at Rupert Murdoch's News of the World tabloid denied Wednesday that his story allegedly exposing spot-fixing in Pakistan cricket was the result of phone hacking.

Giving evidence at the trial in a London court of former Pakistan Test captain Salman Butt and fast bowler Mohammad Asif, undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood said his probe was founded on "insinuating text messages".

Under cross-examination by defence lawyers, Mahmood repeatedly and vehemently insisted that voicemail interception -- the illegal practice which led to the tabloid's closure -- played no part in the story.

Saying his source would remain confidential, Mahmood told Southwark Crown Court it was someone whom he had known for years and had received payment for the tip-off after publication.

"They were insinuating text messages which showed these guys had been doing this for a long time," said Mahmood, who is testifying from behind a screen after the judge banned descriptions of his appearance because his security could be compromised.

"I can't go into the details of how the information was obtained," he said, to protect the source, adding that the defence lawyers were "assuming it's downloaded from a telephone" without the owner's knowledge.

"This story had nothing to do with phone hacking... I hope that the guys who are responsible for that go down," he said.

He said he "categorically" knew that the phone of Mazhar Majeed, an agent for several Pakistan players and the main subject of the investigation, had not been hacked, as the number was only known to very few people.

He added that he was "very sad" that phone hacking had overshadowed the good work the News of the World had done.

Prosecutors allege Butt and Asif agreed for no-balls to be bowled as part of a spot-fixing betting scam.

The pair have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat at gambling.

Majeed and young Pakistan bowler Mohammad Aamer have also been charged with the same offences as Butt and Asif but are not standing trial alongside them.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article