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Westfield charged with fraud

Ex-Essex seamer accused of deliberate poor bowling

Westfield: charged with conspiracy to defraud

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Former Essex cricketer Mervyn Westfield has been charged with conspiracy to defraud over claims that he deliberately played poorly, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have said.

"There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Westfield and it is in the public interest to do so."

CPS spokesman Antony Swift

Quotes of the week

Investigators allege he acted dishonestly during a match between Durham and Essex on September 5, 2009.

It is alleged he dishonestly agreed to bowl his first over in such a way as to allow a certain number of runs to be scored.

Antony Swift, of the CPS, said Westfield would appear at City of London Magistrates' Court on September 23 at 10am.

Pace bowler Westfield, 22, of Chelmsford, was arrested in May after suspicions were raised over a 40-over match.

A second player, Essex and Pakistan leg-spinner Danish Kaneria, 29, was also arrested and questioned but police said last week that he will face no further action.

Police were investigating allegations surrounding spot betting, a niche area of gambling where people bet on specific occurrences in a game.

Mr Swift added: "I have advised that Mervyn Westfield should be charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud for intentionally playing other than to the best of his ability, contrary to his contractual obligations.

Evidence

"It is alleged that he dishonestly agreed to bowl his first over to allow the scoring of a certain number of runs at a match between Durham and Essex on September 5, 2009.

"I have made this decision after careful consideration of a file of evidence from Essex Police.

"There is sufficient evidence to prosecute Mr Westfield and it is in the public interest to do so."

Westfield was charged this morning at Rayleigh police station in Essex. He has been released on bail.

The player is accused of conspiring to defraud the club's members, his team-mates and spectators at the match.

The offence, under the Criminal Justice Act 1987, carries a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine.

Westfield made his first-class debut for Essex against Derbyshire in 2005 and joined the first-team squad in 2006.

He was selected for the England Under 19 tour to Malaysia in 2007, but his career has been blighted by injury.

During the match in question, he conceded 60 runs in seven overs, with four wides and two no-balls. It was screened live on Sky Sports.

Westfield was released by Essex in August, a decision head coach Paul Grayson said was a "huge disappointment" as he had hoped he would become a "big name".

Essex statement

"We are very saddened by the news that Mervyn has been charged by Essex Police," read a statement from Essex.

"We have not been privy to any of the evidence collected by the authorities which is why no action was taken against the player whilst the enquiries were ongoing. Clearly the Police now feel they have sufficient evidence to proceed.

"A decision was taken some weeks ago that Mervyn's playing contract was not to be renewed with the club for 2011. This decision was made purely on cricketing grounds and was not influenced in any way by the ongoing inquiry.

"He leaves the employment of the club on September 30, 2010. The club will not be making any further comment on this matter."