London: Mohammad Asif, the Pakistan bowler on trial for alleged spot-fixing, failed to appear for the start of the eighth day of the case at Southwark Crown Court in central London before arriving at 12.40pm. The defendants are supposed to be present during the trial at all times.
Asif, who has sat in the dock next to his former captain and co-defendant Salman Butt for the entire trial so far, has arrived for every other day in good time, smartly dressed in a suit.
When proceedings began at 10.45am, Asif's legal representative Alexander Milne QC informed the jury "you may have noticed that Mr Asif is not here" and went on but offered no explanation or excuses as to his client's absence. Butt was in the dock, though, along with the Urdu interpreter Mr. Khan.
Butt and Asif are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following the Lord's Test in August last year when they allegedly conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed, teenage fast bowler Mohammad Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-determined no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.
The first item heard on Friday was a written statement from the Pakistan team's security manager, Major Khwaja Najam Javed, which was read to the court by Aftab Jafferjee QC for the prosecution. Then transcripts of police statements with the players from September 2010 were read out in front of the jury.
Najam, who began his role with the team in March 2010, said in his statement that he first encountered Majeed during the World Twenty20 in St. Lucia. He noted how he observed Majeed with his family on the beach but he had also seen Majeed frequently with Butt and Kamran Akmal. He first saw Majeed by the tennis courts at the team hotel with Butt, Asif, Amir and Kamran Akmal, who were talking with him.
When he first introduced himself to Majeed, Najam said in the statement, Majeed introduced himself not as an agent but as a fan who liked to see the Pakistan team whenever they were close to England. Najam quizzed Majeed on whether he thought they were close to England then.
Najam detailed how he also saw Majeed with the players in Sri Lanka for the Asia Cup in June, and then frequently on the England tour, often in the team's hotel - and sometimes would also see his brother and business partner Azhar Majeed with the players.
Najam revealed that the players were warned by team manager, Yawar Saeed, not to allow these men into their rooms and that if they had to meet with them they should do so in the hotel lobby. But still, Najam said, acting on a tip-off from hotel reception, he found Azhar Majeed in the room of fast bowler Wahab Riaz along with Butt and Kamran Akmal after midnight during The Oval Test match. Butt and Akmal apologised to him but offered no explanation as to what they were discussing when Najam inquired, the statement said.