Butt says he never asked bowlers to cheat

Butt says he never asked bowlers to cheat

Butt and Asif, who arrived two hours late for court due to illness, are facing charges of conspiracy to cheat, and conspiracy to obtain and accept corrupt payments, following the match in August 2010 when they allegedly conspired with agent Mazhar Majeed, teenage fast bowler Amir and other people unknown to bowl pre-planned no-balls. Butt and Asif deny the charges.

The jury at London's Southwark Crown Court heard a transcript from police interviews with Butt in September last year, just after an undercover investigation into alleged corruption by the Pakistan cricketers and Majeed that was published in the now defunct British tabloid, the News of the World.

"There's no way I could tell Amir or Asif (to cheat)," the court heard Butt saying in the police interview. "They are the two players that most teams would want to have. When we pick our team those are the first two names that we have to write."

In the first police interview, in which Butt described Majeed's subsequently accurate predictions of the three no-balls as "a freak occurrence", he said he never took money corruptly and insisted his former agent Majeed had no influence over him, contrary to what Majeed said on the News of the World's secret tapes.

"I don't think anybody could influence me to cheat my country," Butt said. "I play this game for the love of the game and for the love of my country.

"I have played at all levels for Pakistan and in ten years of playing for Pakistan I have never had any charge against me," he added. "This is the first time I have had a charge (against me)," before denying any knowledge of cheating in the Pakistan team.

When Asif's initial police interview was played to the court he too denied any wrongdoing and insisted that nobody had pressured him into doing something corrupt and said he was "not protecting" Butt.

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