London: The three Pakistan players at the centre of the spot-fixing allegations that rocked the Lord's Test against England last August have been charged by the UK Crown Prosecution Service with conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, and conspiracy to cheat.
Salman Butt, the former Test captain, and seamers Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir have been accused of conspiring in the bowling of deliberate no-balls on last year's tour of England - claims they all deny.
The trio could be banned for life when an International Cricket Council (ICC) tribunal announces its conclusions in Doha on Saturday, but a separate investigation by London's Metropolitan Police has been concluded a day earlier.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed its findings in an announcement shortly after 11 a.m. GMT on Friday, although a CPS spokesperson said there was no connection between the two timings.
In August 2010, Britain's News of the World tabloid conducted a newspaper 'sting operation' which it said proved the Pakistan trio's willingness were involved in the deliberate bowling of no-balls during the Lord's Test against England.
This, the paper said, was evidence of a spot-betting scam where money can be gambled on specific incidents in a match without the need to 'fix' the result.
All the Pakistan trio were interviewed by police. So too was players' agent Mazhar Majeed, whom the newspaper alleged accepted £50,000 to set up the deal. Majeed was also arrested. A third fast bowler, Wahab Riaz, was also interviewed under caution.
While the ICC, which heard evidence from Butt, Asif and Amir during a hearing in Doha last month, has to consider whether its rules were broken and what, if any, punishment should follow if they were, the CPS must decide whether the players have a case to answer under English law.
Butt, Asif and Amir are all currently provisionally suspended by the ICC.