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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Procter's statement on Harbhajan ruling

Procter's statement on Harbhajan ruling

January 24, 2008 19:31 IST

India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh was on Sunday, January 6, banned for three Test matches after International Cricket Council Referee Mike Procter upheld the Australian team's charge that he racially abused Andrew Symonds during the ill-tempered second Test in Sydney, which India lost by 122 runs.

Procter's decision came after hearing both Harbhajan and Symonds..

Reproduced below is a transcript of Procter's statement, following the Code of Conduct hearing.

This matter started at around 2000. I have heard evidence and submissions until 2400 (midnight). It is now 0140.

Present at the hearing were: Chetan Chauhan, India team manager, Dr.M.V.Sridhar, India assistant manager, Anil Kumble, India captain; Harbhajan Singh, India player, Sachin Tendulkar, India player, umpires Steve Bucknor and Mark Benson, who laid the charges; Australia players Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds and Mathew Hayden; Steve Bernard, Australia team manager, Nigel Peters QC, member of London Bar, member of MCC committee, who assisted in legal and procedural matters.

I am solely charged of the decision in relation to this level 3 charge. I have heard considered evidence from RP, AS, MC, MH, AG, both umpires, HS, ST, AK; I have received submission from CC, MVS, both umpires, SB and further final submissions from CC, MVS.

The first issue for me is did Harbhajan Singh say the word "monkey" or "big monkey"? I have heard evidence from Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke and Mathew Hayden that he did say these words. Harbhajan Singh denies saying these words. Both umpires did not hear nor did Ricky Ponting or Sachin Tendulkar. I am satisfied and sure beyond reasonable doubt that Harbhajan Singh did say these words.

It was submitted to me by Chetan Chauhan that there was doubt because the umpires and other players did not hear the words but, in my judgment, they would not have been in a position to hear them. I note that Sachin Tendulkar only became involved when he realized that something was happening and was gestured over. He tried to calm things down because something had happened that he did not hear. Ricky Ponting's involvement was to report the matter, firstly to the umpires and then to his team manager when he left the field, in accordance with the ICC regulations.

I am satisfied that the words were said and that the complaint to the umpires, which forms this charge, would not have been put forward falsely, I dismiss any suggestion of motive or malice.

The second thing I now have to consider is were the words uttered by Harbhajan Singh so as to offend, insult, humiliate etc. Andrew Symonds on the basis of his race, colour, descent or ethnic origin (as per the Level 3.3 offence)? I am sure beyond reasonable doubt that the use of the word "monkey" or "big monkey" was said to insult or offend Andrew Symonds on the basis of his race, colour or ethnic origin.

Whatever may have been said between them prior to Harbhajan Singh calling Andrew Symonds a monkey is irrelevant. There is a history between these two players.

It is not relevant to my findings here to decide what happened in Mumbai. Nevertheless, there was trouble in Mumbai when members of the crowd were arrested for using the word "monkey" and gesturing towards Andrew Symonds. This caused both Indian and Australian boards to issue a joint-statement. To this extent Mumbai is relevant to this hearing.

Once I had read the verdict to the players, I heard submissions from Chetan Chauhan and Dr.M.V.Sridhar. I gave them some thought five to ten minutes and then I imposed a penalty of a three Test-match ban.