London: Mazhar Mahmood, the journalist who conceived the plan that resulted in spot-fixing allegations against Pakistan cricketers Salman Butt and Mohammad Asif, will be appearing in front of the jury at Southwark Crown Court on the fourth day of the trial on Monday.
He will give his evidence from behind a screen to protect his identity and only the judge, jury and legal representatives are likely to see his face. In-court sketches and visible descriptions are not allowed to be reported. His evidence is key to the prosecution and his appearance in court is expected to run into a second day.
Mahmood was an investigative reporter for the now defunct News of the World and it was his undercover sting operation that created one of cricket's biggest controversies. He took on the guise of an Indian businessman, supposedly backed by a betting cartel, and lured cricket agent Mazhar Majeed into allegedly revealing a corrupt plot during Pakistan's 2010 tour of England.
Butt and Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following that Lord's Test in August last year when they allegedly conspired with Majeed, teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir and other unknown people to bowl pre-determined no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.
Majeed was filmed revealing when no-balls would be delivered by the bowlers. That footage from secret cameras was also played to the jury on Thursday morning. The case is expected to run for most of this month.
Mahmood is being referred to in court as 'the journalist' to reduce confusion with the name of Mazhar Majeed.
The trial began on October 4 and lasted for three days before it was adjourned until Monday, October 10. The initial proceedings saw legal arguments setting out the agreements for the trial and reporting restrictions, while the prosecution's opening address spanned two days. The jury was shown video footage of the alleged pre-planned no-balls on Thursday.