London: A court heard on Friday during the alleged spot-fixing trial defendant Mohammed Asif insist that he was not protecting his former captain Salman Butt and denied that Butt had ever put pressure on him to bowl no-balls or to cheat in any other way.
On the eighth day of the trial at Southwark Crown Court, the jury heard a transcript of an initial police interview with Asif in September last year, shortly after the publication of an undercover investigation into alleged corruption by the Pakistan cricketers and Mazhar Majeed, released in the News of the World.
The transcript was read out in role play format between policeman at the time Detective Constable John Massey and Sarah Whitehouse for the prosecution. Asif, though, was not present at the time as he arrived two hours late.
When the court heard how Asif was questioned on whether he was protecting Butt, he replied: "No…I'm going to protect myself. How can I protect Salman Butt. Even in the game and in my life I am going to protect myself."
When police probed further and asked Asif if he was being put under any pressure by Butt not to tell the truth, Asif was again firm in his response: "No pressure, how can he put pressure on me? How can he pressurise me? Nobody can pressurise me as I have played in the (Pakistan) team for a long time."
The police interview also heard, which had been revealed earlier in the trial, how there was no marked News of the World money found in Asif's room, but there was in the hotel rooms of Butt and Mohammad Amir at the time of police searches.
Asif also revealed that his initial agent was Mazhar's older brother Azhar but he switched to Mazhar "seven or eight months ago", yet added that despite conversations of potential income, he had never received any money from either of the Majeed's.
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 Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-determined no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.
The case continues.