By Nick Harris
28 July 2010
In a welcome development in the John Higgins ‘match fix’ case, The Guardian is reporting that the News of the World has now handed over to investigators all the video tapes shot during its sting operation on Higgins and business partner Pat Mooney.
Sportingintelligence cannot independently corroborate that the tapes, unedited or otherwise, have been handed to the snooker authorities. We have asked the News of the World to clarify this issue and will provide updates as they arrive.
But this website understands that the former Met Police chief superintendent, David Douglas, has now indeed had access to footage shot during the NotW investigation, but it is understood that he had conditional access (possibly on NotW premises), meaning he had to agree to some kind of indemnity waiver about the use of the footage.
Douglas has not been able to confirm or deny this for legal reasons. We have asked the News of the World to clarify the situation and are awaiting a response.
What is absolutely certain at the time of writing – at 5pm UK time on Wednesday 28 July – is that neither Higgins nor Mooney have had access to unedited evidence amassed by the paper, and nor have their legal teams.
We reported yesterday that the newspaper requested they agree not to take legal action in return for such access. The paper denies “categorically” that it has had any contact with the legal teams of Higgins or Mooney; we understand the request to agree to indemnity waivers came indirectly via David Douglas. Again, no relevant party will confirm or deny this, despite requests.
Higgins and Mooney face charges of failing to report an approach about match-fixing, of bringing the game into disrepute, and of accepting or pretending to accept a proposition related to gambling on frames.
They face a hearing to be chaired by Ian Mill QC and to be hosted by the independent dispute resolution service, Sport Resolutions (UK), in early September.
Sportingintelligence understands Mill will ask the News of the World for access to evidence for Higgins and Mooney, access so far denied.
If no such access is provided, unconditionally, it could transpire that David Douglas, who was meant to hand over the case to Sport Resolutions to be handled independently, could be asked, effectively, to become the chief prosecution witness, recounting second-hand details of evidence only he has seen first hand.
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