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Thursday, 27 April, 2000, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
The ECB findings in full
By now you will be aware of the statement put out earlier today by Gerard Elias, chairman of the discipline standing committee, in which it is clear that the investigation, carried out in close conjunction with the CID and involving the ICC, has found no evidence to sustain the allegations made last year that England players, past or present, had played any part in match-fixing.
Although none of us has derived any pleasure from the fact of the investigation, we can take comfort from its findings.
We should, however, take less comfort from the exposure that this case has had in the media, both last year in the News of the World and repeated again two weeks ago in the same paper and followed up in other media.
Since then, serious accusations have been made against the board by Chris Lewis and his agent on which, we were advised, it would be inappropriate to comment whilst the investigation was still in progress.
However, now that the immediate enquiry into match-fixing allegations against England players is over, I want you to know that I have been kept closely informed of the progress in this case and, notwithstanding what you have read and heard over the past days, I am absolutely satisfied with the way in which matters have been handled, particularly by the International Teams Director.
I owe it to you, all professional cricketers in this country (including the England cricket team) and everyone associated with the game to answer the criticisms that have been levelled at the board.
First, I am satisfied that there is no foundation whatsoever in the idea that those involved at the board were not interested in the information that was made available by Chris Lewis when he first reported the matter on 3 August 1999.
Of course, precisely what was said at this initial meeting cannot be proven for there were no independent witnesses to it, but a detailed computerised record made shortly after the meeting shows that the establishing of identities (which Chris Lewis remained reluctant to divulge to the ECB) was a key feature of it.
Lewis' nervousness and reluctance to divulge any names to us at the time was perhaps understandable (he has repeatedly referred to his concern for his safety), but the meeting ended with the hope and expectation that he would be able to tell us names in due course and as trust developed over the next few days.
In the event, this hope did not materialise.
Second, there is no truth in the allegation that the ECB did nothing about the information it had received or that there has been some form of cover-up.
Lewis was made aware of the importance that the board attached to sharing the information with the ICC (and later with the police), although records make clear Lewis' reluctance for this to happen.
Further time was given for Lewis to ponder this point in the hope that he would change his mind ; but he did not.
It was therefore decided to seek advice from the chairman of the discipline standing committee as to whether this matter should now be referred to the police.
Following that advice, Lewis was informed that the matter would have to be referred to New Scotland Yard whether he liked it or not.
To his credit, on 18 August he accompanied the International Teams Director to St John's Wood Police Station and has co-operated with the CID investigation since then.
With the matter now in police hands, and notwithstanding Lewis' continuing sensitivities over security, the board took the decision to inform the ICC in strictest confidence of all that it knew, and did so on 20 August; and from this moment, the ECB and ICC have remained fully engaged in support of what had become a formal CID investigation.
There are computerised records of all these activities which can be verified from police and ICC sources.
The suggestion that there has been a cover-up at the board or that the chief executive or International Teams Director has acted in anything other than an entirely proper manner has no foundation whatsoever.
Third, the allegation that the board leaked information to the News of the World last September is unrealistic and untrue.
For self-evident reasons, and not least to protect the interests of Chris Lewis, the information provided by Lewis was handled on a strictly need-to-know basis with only a very small number of senior officials being aware (MacLaurin, Lamb, Pack, Peel, Elias and Graveney).
At the time of the publication of the News of the World article, the only other people who had knowledge of the matter (as far as the board was aware) were the CID, four senior officials of the ICC (Richards, Hill, Griffiths and Dalmiya), and Chris Lewis and his agent.
For the board to have leaked details of this case to the News of the World would only have served to undermine the very investigation which it had instigated.
The allegations are utterly refuted. I hope the above will lay to rest any suspicion that the board has acted improperly in this case.
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Links to other Cricket stories are at the foot of the page.
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