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Last Updated: Friday, 15 June 2007, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Transcript: Murder at the World Cup

Since the transmission of this programme, Jamaican police have attributed the death of Bob Woolmer to natural causes.

Due to rights restrictions with the sports clips, we are unable to show this programme online.

Murder at the world cup
DATE: 30:04:07

JEREMY VINE: Hello, I'm Jeremy Vine and this is Panorama. Murder not natural causes! The vital clues at the hotel where Bob Woolmer was strangled.

MARK SHIELDS: Anybody who comes out of the lift will be seen by that camera.

VINE: The dramatic test results which suggest Woolmer's death had been pre-planned, and rumours of corruption. But was there another motive for his murder?

PERVEZ MIR: I mean Bob had his reservations that the boys really... they really ought to be focusing more on cricket.

VINE: He was strangled in his hotel room soon after his Pakistan team lost a World Cup match to Ireland. Now that is like Germany losing top Luxembourg in the football. There were suspicions that illegal gambling might have influenced the result even before Bob Woolmer's body was found in room 374. Now the detective leading the investigation has spoken exclusively to Panorama.


PARSONS: It was the most embarrassing defeat in Pakistan's history. Top rank stars from a cricket mad nation beaten by the part-time players of Ireland, on St Patrick's Day of all days.

[Scenes from match]
COMMENTATOR: I wonder what is going through the mind of Bob Woolmer right now. And there it is, Jack Johnson has hit the winning run.

PARSONS: It was about half past five on Saturday 17th March when Pakistan's cricketers finally succumb to defeat against the minnows of Ireland here at Sabina Park. The Irish were jubilant. Pakistan's players, fans and their coach were all devastated. Nobody had expected them to lose this game. They wandered off to the dressing room to console themselves and the coach, well he'd already been thinking of resigning his job.

Post Match Interview
March 17 2007

BOB WOOLMER: I have to apologise for the performance today. The team obviously didn't want to lose today, they worked very hard in the field. The most important thing about this all is that it's a test of character for all of us and we'll have to go and lick our wounds and have a look at the future later.

PARSONS: Eighteen hours after this, the last ever interview filmed with Bob Woolmer, his body was found sprawled across the bathroom floor of his hotel room. An initial post-mortem proved inconclusive but then four days later came the news that threw the World Cup into chaos.

March 22 2007
The matter of Mr Woolmer's death is now being treated by the Jamaica Police as a case of murder.

PARSONS: His murder, five days into the tournament thrust Pakistan's team back into the media spotlight. Not as shocked losers but as possible suspects. The world's media descended on Kingston Jamaica, desperate for clues in a murder mystery.

Indeed, for the first few days, the only thing that everyone agreed upon was the Bob Woolmer was dead. Panorama was there too. We've spoken to the detective heading the investigation into the case, the widow, the Pakistani team captain and its manager, and we've also obtained the last images of Mr Woolmer live, taken by the CCTV system in the Pegasus Hotel as he headed back to his bedroom at about half past seven. We know that after arriving back at the hotel after his team's shocked defeat, the coach stayed talking quietly with his players and some fans in the lobby area from around 6.30 onwards.

Pakistan Team Manager
Bob spoke to me, you know, we were very sad, so he said we will discuss.. you know, things in the morning. Let everything remain as it is. It's no point, you know, talking about the performance right now. One now realised that that was the last words spoken by Bob to me.

PARSONS: He then left the group and headed for the lift. This is the last picture of him. My room is on the 11th floor of the Pegasus and that's a storey below where Bob Woolmer was staying, but the layout is exactly the same. So let's imagine Mr Woolmer coming back here in the aftermath of that embarrassing defeat to Ireland.


Once back in room 374 we know that he ordered room service. His lasagne was delivered at 8.30. At about 9pm he sent an email to his wife, Jill, back home in South Africa.

GILL WOOLMER: He did mention that he was feeling very down and depressed at the time but nothing other than that.

PARSONS: And sending that email is the last traceable thing we know Bob Woolmer did before he was killed. And what happened next? Well eyebrows weren't raised until he failed to turn up for breakfast. And then the chambermaid came to clean the room and discovered Mr Woolmer slumped here in the bathroom, traces of blood, vomit and diarrhoea splattered on the walls. At some point in the intervening hours somebody or some people have come into his room and violently murdered Bob Woolmer. As these photos of the crime scene show, there was no evidence of a struggle in the bedroom.

The man charged with finding the killer was Mark Shields, formerly of Scotland Yard, now Jamaica's number one murder detective. Hunting killers isn't a rarity for him, far from it. Jamaica is one of the murder capitals of the world. But since the murder at the World Cup, Mark Shields' day job has taken a back seat.

MARK SHIELDS: [statement to press] Bob was a large man and therefore it would have taken some significant force in which to subdue him and cause strangulation.

PARSONS: Mark Shields gave Panorama exclusive access to his investigation and he talked us through what he found at the murder scene.

Mark, this is my room, I hope.. I think it's the same dimension as Bob Woolmer's room.

SHIELDS: Yes, very much so, yeah.

PARSONS: So when you first came in, what did you see?

SHIELDS: Well, it was a relatively standard hotel room and there was no huge disruption in the room. The laptop was here. When Bob Woolmer was found, the chambermaid alerted a nurse, a doctor, they arrived and they moved Bob from the bathroom area, and if I can just show you the bathroom. It's a relatively small bathroom in this hotel. You can imagine a man in here who has fallen behind this door with his head towards the toilet which is at the rear end here, the sink is at this end, and so there was some difficulty in getting the door all the way back.

PARSONS: So when the chambermaid came in, this door was basically wedged.

SHIELDS: It was wedged by his body, that's right. It was not a pleasant scene in any stretch really, in that there was some vomit.. it was clear that he'd been ill.

PARSONS: The idea of him grappling with one or two people in this little bathroom is a curious concept, isn't it.

SHIELDS: Well it certainly is and that's the problem with the whole case that there are so many anomalies around it that are not straightforward, that's what makes it so unique and actually quite difficult to investigate. I go back to the fact that at least if it's somebody stabbed or shot it's very straightforward. This is a far more complex case but we can only go with what the experts tell us.

March 22 2007
The pathologist report states that Mr Woolmer's death was due to asphyxia as a result of manual strangulation.

Deputy Police Commissioner, Jamaica

From the upper chest up to the head there was a blue tinge to it which would suggest asphyxiation. That was commented on by the doctors. And of course I asked some very straightforward questions. ¿Could this be self-inflicted?¿ And I was informed: ¿No, absolutely not.¿

PARSONS: So suicide was ruled out very early on. Police were hunting at least one murderer.

How tough is it in reality to strangle to death another man?

SHIELDS: It's difficult and it's rare. A lot of force will be needed to do that. Bob Woolmer was a large man and that's why one could argue that either it's an extremely strong person or maybe more than one person. But equally, the lack of external injury suggests that there might be some other factor and that's what we're looking into at the moment.

PARSONS: One factor, one line of inquiry gathering momentum is whether or not Bob Woolmer was poisoned prior to his murder. A second and more detailed toxicology report isn't due back until next week. But we can reveal that those tests will show there was a drug in his system, something that would have incapacitated Mr Woolmer. As he was being strangled it's almost certain that he'd been rendered helpless and so he was unable to fight back. The specific details of that poison are now very likely to offer a significant lead in finding his murderer. News of his death had shocked his players, but news that it was murder stunned them.

TALAT ALI: They were shattered, they were devastated. You know, it was one of the worst periods in our cricketing life. You know, you're out of the World Cup and the next morning you come to learn that your coach has suddenly died. You know, it was shocking, really shocking.

PARSONS: So how did the murderer get into Bob's room in the first place, and would they have been filmed on the way. Mark Shields took us to the 12th floor of the Pegasus.

SHIELDS: We still have police officers on the floor because we still have a crime scene, so we're protecting it as best we can. And you'll see there are three lifts onto the 12th floor and up here we have a CCTV camera which gives good coverage of this area which means that anybody who comes out of the lift from this side will be seen by that camera and if they go into that corridor we should have a record of it. There's another security camera here which gives very good coverage of the corridor. This is the emergency exit, the fire exit, so again anybody using the staircase and avoiding the lifts will still have to come through here and along.

PARSONS: The hotel CCTV tapes are currently being examined frame by frame at Scotland Yard and London. If they show that no one took the lift or the stairs to the 12th floor to kill Bob Woolmer that night, there is another possible solution ¿ his killer was already staying on the same floor. Along with Woolmer, half of his squad and entourage were in rooms on the 12th floor, as were some other cricketing stars, like the West Indies skipper Brian Lara.

SHIELDS: If somebody was in one of these rooms, left their room, they could go to Bob Woolmer's room, go back to their own room. So that's something we're considering.

ELDON BREMNER: And as you cans see, there's the front desk.

PARSONS: As well as the dozens of CCTV cameras in and around the hotel there's also a computer record of every time a key card is used to enter a guest room, including Bob Woolmer's.

Pegasus Hotel Manager
There's no key entry from the time he enters the room and the time the room attendant went and opened that door.

PARSONS: So it would have to have been Mr Woolmer opening the door.

BREMNER: It would have to be him.

PARSONS: So did Bob Woolmer open the door to his own killer or killers that night? It's likely that all he was wearing was a towel that I think human nature would dictate if it was a stranger it is unlikely that you would let somebody into your room.

GILL WOOLMER: If it had been somebody, one of the hotel staff or somebody he thought may be a member of hotel staff like the cleaners or the room service or whatever, then he may well have opened the door.

PARSONS: Some of the first people to be questioned were the Pakistan Squad including the manager Talat Ali. He says they were only ever questioned as witnesses, never as suspects.

TALAT ALI: The boys were asked: ¿When did they last see Bob? Was there any stranger in the hotel at that time talking to Bob? What time was Bob at the dining area? Did you see any suspicious guys?¿ These were just plain ordinary questions. When the impression given was that we were suspects, it was nothing like that.

PARSONS: But Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Captain of the Pakistan team who spoke at Bob Woolmer's memorial service, has no doubt that he and his team mates are suspects.

Former Pakistan Captain

I am sure, I am definitely, and... but I think it's a regular investigation because I'm asking the policemen why he is questioning everybody, he says it's not Pakistan team, it's also is Ireland team as well and other teams as well.

PARSONS: Fifty-eight year old Bob Woolmer made his name as a batsman for Kent and England winning 19 test caps for his country. Outspoken he was often at the centre of controversy. In the 1970s he signed for media tycoon Kerry Packer's world series which changed the face of one day cricket. And then in 1981 he sacrificed his England career to join the paid rebel tour to South Africa in the days of apartheid. His modern day coaching techniques were widely copied and they made him one of the most influential men in the game.

INZAMAM-UL-HAQ: He's a dedication man. He's a dedicated man. He's working hard.

Friend & co-author

He was really committed to help other people and that was his focus. He became a very great educator and that in a sense was why he was such a good coach.

PARSONS: So, he was admired, liked, respected, and yet somebody murdered him. Why? Well there's never been any shortage of suggestions about what the motive might have been.


First up a disgruntled Pakistan fan, ashamed that his team had been humiliated. Effigies of the team's Captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq, had been burnt in the streets of Pakistan after the defeat by furious supporters.

GILL WOOLMER: Some are very fanatical and you wonder how that could affect people. But Bob used to say: ¿Well let them come and fight me.¿

MARK SHIELDS: It's possible that somebody was so upset that they took it out on Bob Woolmer, that this was some form of a perverse reprisal because of the result of their position being ousted from World Cup cricket.


PARSONS: Was it perhaps a random murder, a robbery gone wrong?

SHIELDS: First and foremost we have a hotel which has got a huge amount of security, and then of course if a motivation to murder was also to steal, then of course there was nothing stolen.

PARSONS: Jamaica is a pretty rough country. You look at the paper today, four people killed yesterday on the front page. Police have told us that actually there were nine murders across the country yesterday. But the difference between Bob Woolmer's murder and most of these is that Jamaican killers tend to use knives or guns. The fact that Bob Woolmer was strangled has led the police here to conclude that his killer came from outside Jamaica.


PARSONS: There have even been reports that Woolmer wasn't murdered at all, that he got drunk on whisky and died after falling in the bathroom.

MARK SHIELDS: There's absolutely no truth in that at all. There is some indication that he had a drink in the room. I know that his blood alcohol level was just above the limit for driving and for Bob Woolmer that would not be a problem.


PARSONS: So was he about to expose evidence of match-fixing or corruption involving his team? Well Pakistan losing to both the West Indies and Ireland certainly fuelled suspicion but where was the evidence ? Bob Woolmer had been unwittingly connected with match corruption before. While coaching South Africa in the late 1990s the team became embroiled in the biggest match fixing scandal ever resulting in Captain Hansie Cronje being banned for life.

BBC News June 15 2000

HANSIE CRONJE: [reading statement] Words cannot begin to describe the shame, humiliation....

PARSONS: He admitted being in the pay of an Indian bookmaker.

May 20 2001

BOB WOOLMER: What it did to cricket and cricketers like myself and other people.. I mean in a way it shamed cricket.

PARSONS: Before Bob Woolmer joined them the Pakistan team were involved in a match-fixing scandal of their own resulting in life-time bans for two players and a fine for Inzamam-ul-Haq.

BOB WOOLMER: I was amazed, quite frankly because I just didn't believe it was happening. I couldn't think the Pakistanis would throw a game. You know, I couldn't believe that. I couldn't believe anyone in cricket would ever throw anything quite frankly.

PARSONS: Well match-fixing isn't just about the end result of throwing a game. These days you can play spot bets on almost any eventuality. How many runs a bowler will concede, how many runs a batsman will score, more or less than 30 let's say, when precisely he'll get out. Now if the player and the bookmaker collude to fix these outcomes, the bookie is guaranteed and income and the player will get a lucrative reward, and all this is very, very hard to prove. But it has been proved. Justice Malik Qayyum headed an investigation into cricket corruption 7 years ago. He concluded it was rife not only in Pakistan but across the world.

Former High Court Judge, Pakistan

In Pakistan I found definite evidence showing that yes some of the match had been fixed by some of the players, and I also said that this appears to be all over, like India, South Africa, Sri Lanka maybe England and Australia also.

MARK SHIELDS: I think cricket itself has acknowledged that it has a problem and that ICC have an anti corruption unit which is headed by Lord Condon.

PARSONS: The former Met Police Chief Lord Condon submitted a report to the sports governing body saying corruption was endemic within a small but significant number of players in the sport.

SHIELDS: We've left it with him and one of our liaison's death was related to match fixing.

PARSONS: Gambling is big business in India and Pakistan, especially on the region's favourite sport ¿ cricket. And where there are big profits at stake, there's also the potential for corruption. Undercover reporter Aniruddha Bahal first blew the lid on match-fixing in 1997. His regular corruption exposés every since has meant he now has an armed guard 24/7.

Investigative Journalist

When you look at match-fixing people think that match fixing is about influencing results. I mean today it means a hundred different things. If I was in some team and somebody approached me saying: ¿You just have to get out before you're scoring 20 runs.¿ I mean that's it. I mean and maybe he could make a pile of money just doing that.

PARSONS: In Lahore Pakistan's police were keen to show us their specialist illegal gambling unit in action.

Lahore Police

Gambling is a curse for our society. It gives a wrong impression and therefore it should be stamped out. This is an Islamic country, this should not be here. It is a cancer.

PARSONS: They recently arrested 1,100 people in raids on 235 illegal bookies. This man is a local rickshaw driver. He now faces the death penalty for the murder of a bookie after an illegal bet that went bad.

RICKSHAW DRIVER: There's a lot of unemployment and poverty here. People think that there's easy money to be made from gambling but it just leads to violence.

PARSONS: The raids make headlines but little impact, such is the scale of illegal gambling here. Small time bookies proliferate in back alleys across the subcontinent, each answering to bigger, powerful mafia bookmakers. This one is operating out of Mumbai and taking bets from all over India. He believes that there are still international players in the pocket of the Mafia bookies.

BOOKIE: Sometimes they make the runs, sometimes they give a maiden over, so the suspicions are coming... why a batsman who has the capacity of playing is just playing a table tennis type of cricket. It raises the doubt... it's not confirmed, the man who has got the capacity to hit is not hitting.

PARSONS: As a coach Bob Woolmer was not afraid to speak out against corruption.

May 20 2001

BOB WOOLMER: It's certainly something I would not associate with if I knew anything about it, and if I did know something about it I would certainly let the world know straightaway.

PARSONS: So could his outspoken approach have been a reason for his murder?

JUSTICE MALIK QAYYUM: Well we've looked at, at least shrouded in mystery. Nobody knows what happened but there are strong indications that somehow or the other this had to do with match-fixing, otherwise there is no rational explanation for his murder.


PARSONS: But there's no evidence either. Another theory is the possibility that tensions between the coach and his squad could have played a part.

GILL WOOLMER: He got on very well with the boys. They had a generally good relationship and obviously the ones who spoke English he found easier to communicate with.

INZAMAM-UL-HAQ: I'm the Captain and all the time he support me, he's backed me and I think he's our good friend and it's good relationship with the Bob.

TALAT ALI: The Captain he really thought that Bob's advice was always very useful. Obviously there could have been.. you know, disagreements on strategy or plan, but he always looked up to Bob for advice.

PARSONS: But even the most harmonious of relationships can fracture when a team loses catastrophically in a world cup. After the Ireland match there were rumours of a huge row on the bus back to the hotel.

BERTRAM CARR: I don't see much communication with the coach and the players.

PARSONS: Bertram Carr was the Pakistan team's bus driver.

What did the players do during the journey from Sabina Park to the Pegasus Hotel, what were they doing on the bus?

Bus Driver
They just sit and most of them on their phone.

PARSONS: No voices raised?

CARR: No voice raised. No argument on the bus. I don't know what took place in the changing room or on the lawns but on the bus they were very, very quiet.

PARSONS: So there was no post match row on the bus, just a team devastated by defeat.

PERVEZ 'PJ' MIR Pakistan Cricket Team Media Manager Bob was disappointed. He was very, very much disappointed. I mean he was totally.. I felt he was a broken man.

PARSONS: Bob Woolmer recorded his most candid feelings in an email to his wife, Jill, the very last contact he would have with her.

JILL WOOLMER: No, he did mention that he was feeling very down and depressed at the time because it was just so frustrating that one of the minnow sides could do what they'd done. (laugh) It was inconceivable.

PARSONS: Another issue affecting team moral has been gaining ground for some time. Pakistan's media manager of the World Cup, P.J. Mir, shared Bob's concerns about whether the team's priority was their religion or their sport.

2003 World Cup

PERVEZ 'PJ' MIR: I mean Bob had his reservations that the boys instead of really focussing themselves onto the religious aspect, they really ought to be focusing more on cricket. He wasn't particularly pleased that when players were going out to say their prayers in the middle of a game and a substitute was coming in and then again this continued. He was totally against it.

INZAMAM-UL-HAQ: I'm Muslim, a Muslim man, haram durilah and in my religion is five times prayer is every day. Bob is never upset about this.

PARSONS: The Captain, Inzamam-ul-Haq and other prominent members of the Pakistani Squad have become members of the Sunni Fundamentalist Group, Tablighi Jamaat. The group listened to prayer and sermons while travelling with the rest of the squad on the team bus.

MIR: A siri was being played, which was a Tablighi siri and Bob was sitting behind me. He said look, why don't you tell them to stop it, and if they want to listen to it they can listen to it on their iPods or on their personal devices, and he said that he felt that he shouldn't really be subjected to all this and I agreed with Bob.

Friend & co-author

He read the Koran, he wanted to understand the Pakistan personality but he gave up the last three years of his life to go and work in Pakistan, and one could imagine that if he had felt the team weren't performing as they should have for these strange reasons, I think anyone in that frustration might have said something which in retrospect might have been taken incorrectly.

PARSONS: After the team were knocked out P.J. Mir returned to Pakistan and publicly blamed their poor performance on some of the team they're more interested praying than playing. He claims his comments resulted in a fatwa forcing him to flee the country.

MIR: Let's put it this way. If Bob had said what I had said, yes, I think there would have been a fatwa on him as well, there's no question of that. But again...

PARSONS: Has he said what you said?

MIR: Well I said that the players were more focused on religion rather than cricket.

PARSONS: And he too has said that?

MIR: Well he has said that, yes.

PARSONS: What we know is that Bob Woolmer was rendered helpless by some kind of toxin and that he was then smothered and strangled. All this just hours after his side had been sent crashing out of the World Cup by minnows. Now talk of match fixing, international gambling and fatwas may sound far fetched, but the circumstances around this crime were extraordinary. So whatever the motive was, it's likely to have been unique.

SHIELDS: I am not going to say I am absolutely confident that next week we will have caught the murderer of Bob Woolmer. I am confident that we are doing all that we possibly can. We're treating this as a professional, methodical, systematic investigation using all of the best techniques that are available in the world. We'll do the best that we can.

PARSONS: What would you like to see happen with this inquiry?

GILL WOOLMER: Just that we find out who, what and when and why. That would put my mind at rest.

JEREMY VINE: So the World Cup may be over but the mystery of Bob Woolmer's death goes on.

That was Adam Parsons reporting for Panorama.

Coming up later this week we've an hour long Panorama Special - Midwives Undercover - that's here on BBC1 on Thursday night at 8 o'clock.

Next Monday we're back with White Flight, a topic some are too scared to discuss publicly.

Why Muslim Asians and whites won't mix. What's driving the two apart.

Woolmer 'died of natural causes'
12 Jun 07 |  Americas
Pakistan's injustice over Woolmer
12 Jun 07 |  South Asia
Murder at the World Cup
30 Apr 07 |  Panorama

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