Salman Butt’s lawyer today told a jury to acquit the former Pakistan captain and end his “ordeal” by allowing him to return to cricket.
Ali Bajwa, QC, addresses jurors at the cricket corruption trial directly, saying they have an “extraordinary responsibility” because Butt’s future “lays in your hands”.
In his closing speech, he said that the player “would not and could not” have thrown away a lifetime’s work and the “honour and status” of leading his team on the world stage – “all for three no balls”.
“The prosecution says he is guilty because he is captain, we say he cannot be guilty because he is captain,” Mr Bajwa said.
“We ask you to end his ordeal and allow him to pursue the only vocation he knows and loves, and that is playing cricket.”
The defence speech focused on the unreliability of Mazhar Majeed, the agent at the centre of the conspiracy. Mr Bajwa also claimed that Mohammad Amir organised no balls at the Lord’s Test with Majeed – without Butt’s knowledge – and that the teenager also organised fixes directly with an unidentified underworld figure in Pakistan.
“To say Salman Butt had some influence over Amir is far from the truth. It is possible that Majeed set up the no-balls directly with Amir,” the lawyer said.
“This isn’t some naive and holy innocent teenager. We have seen his messages to a Pakistani number.”
Meanwhile, Mohammad Asif’s defence for his no ball – claiming that he was “sledged” by Butt and told to run faster to the crease – was labelled “ludicrous” by Butt’s defence.
Mr Bajwa attacked the prosecution case against the former captain, claiming that it “worked backwards from an assumption of guilt”.
“Every phone call he makes, every text he receives, every pound he earns has been presented to you as suspicious.
“Salman Butt’s life has been torn apart to the point of analysing his bank records, his every move and even anything his mother does or planned. If I worked backwards from any of your lives I could find or twist things about what you have or might not have done.
“What we are asking you here is to stand back from this case and uphold that strong tradition of justice and say we are not going to presume that there is no smoke without fire. That is no basis for justice. In the case of Salman Butt there simply isn’t enough evidence to find him guilty.”
Mr Bajwa said that prosecution case comes down to the words and actions of Majeed, which cannot be trusted, he claimed. The lawyer repeatedly highlighted that Majeed had not given evidence at the trial, and was not cross examined.
Mr Bajwa asked: “Is it right that we can condemn someone on the words of a man without his evidence being tested in court? You are being asked to give a criminal conviction on the strength of Majeed’s evidence.
“This is a man who claimed be good friends with Brad Pitt, Roger Federer and former England players like Mike Gatting, Geoff Boycott and Phil Tufnell – who won ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here’.
“Well I say Majeed is the celebrity and we need to get him out of here.”
Addressing the financial evidence, Mr Bajwa said that Butt earned “comfortably more” than £200,000 a year – hardly “peanuts” by British or Pakistani standards. He defended Butt’s spending on expensive designer watches, and said that he had also paid for the education of both of his sisters.
Butt and Asif deny a conspiracy to cheat and accept corrupt payments.
The case continues.
Follow RDJ Edwards in court on Twitter – @Cricketer_RDJ