May 23, 2001
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Condon pats CBI for 'professional' job

Shyam Bhatia
India Abroad Correspondent in London

Lord Paul Condon played down the allegations of murder contained in his report into cricket corruption, praised the Central Bureau of Investigation's professionalism and said he had given world cricket a blueprint for action which, if acted upon, would quickly restore the sport's reputation.

In an exclusive interview with India Abroad, the first since his report was published on the Internet early on Wednesday, Condon said, "Don't take the murder allegations too much out of context. That's just a sentence in the body of the report acknowledging the allegations that have been made. Most match fixing isn't about murder and organised crime; most of it is much lower level than that.

"Of course those who have been following the story know that allegations have been made of at least one murder and a kidnapping linked to these events in recent years. But that's not the core of the report or its main suggestion that this is a recent event. The major thrust of what we found was that although we think we helped stop a great deal of the corruption that was going, there's still a small core of people involved."

During the interview he gave before leaving for Pakistan, Condon repeatedly stressed that he had been given an international brief by the International Cricket Council and was not beholden to the cricket board of any particular country.

"My client is as much the Indian team as anyone else," he emphasized. "Mine is an international brief. I don't work for the English Cricket Board. We are funded by world cricket and I came to this with a totally fresh mind. My view was that I should report honestly and independently and that's exactly what I've done.

"What I've done is given the ICC a list of 24 recommendations which I think will give a much stronger chance of stopping this."

Asked why the English cricket authorities appeared to be dragging their feet on investigating the allegations against individuals like Alec Stewart, Condon replied, "He's been interviewed here with his solicitor and will be interviewed again formally as will all the cricketers who were named in the CBI report. You are aware that legal processes are quite slow, but certainly I hope by the end of this year all the allegations that were made in the thoroughly professional CBI report will have been resolved.

"In the case of allegations made by Chris Lewis -- and we mention that in the report -- a full criminal investigation has been made and a report is now with the prosecuting authorities in this country... Investigations are taking place exactly the same as in other countries.

"There is a full criminal investigation into allegations that Chris Lewis, the England player, raised and a full report has been submitted by the police. That doesn't relate to Alec Stewart. But Alec Stewart is in exactly the same position as allegations made against the other overseas players in the CBI report.

"Chris Lewis alleged quite separately from the CBI report that he was approached by bookmakers to fix matches in England. Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand player, also said he was approached by the same people. That led to a full criminal investigation and that report is with the prosecuting authorities."

Condon said he did not believe that further inquiries into match fixing and other corruption allegations would from now on be swept under the carpet. If that were to happen, he said, "I would not stay involved."

Asked if he thought his recommendations to stamp out corruption went far enough, Condon replied, "I am confident that we have given world cricket a packet of recommendations that will have a positive impact.

"I think I have given world cricket a blueprint. If they endorse my recommendations -- and I hope they would -- they can very quickly get on top of the situation and restore the reputation of cricket.

"One of my most important recommendations is a full-time member of staff who worries about these issues in each of the boards.

"It should be someone like myself who is a former policeman, or a former military person, someone with that sort of background who can be around the team and make sure that people are protected -- I don't think it can be right that people have easy access to the team to corrupt them."

Commenting on his forthcoming trip to Pakistan, Condon added, "The timing is purely coincidental, in the sense that it was arranged for months and months. It so happened that I'm visiting Pakistan this week and that just leaves me two Test-playing countries to visit -- Bangladesh and the West Indies -- but I have visited all the others and some of the associate playing members.

"I've had a great deal of support from General [Tauqir] Zia, chairman [of the Pakistan Cricket Board], and Brigadier Rana, the chief executive.

"I can understand their anxiety having an outsider [as the head of the ICC investigation], particularly someone from England, but I see myself and my team serving all the Test-playing nations, regardless of our own backgrounds."

The Match-fixing Scandal: The complete coverage

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