Danish Kaneria’s lifetime ban for fixing could be quashed at his appeal hearing after it emerged Mervyn Westfield, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s star witness in the case, has not responded to requests to appear at the tribunal.
A source has described Westfield as “disappearing off the scene” over the past few months as the ECB looks to defend their case against Kaneria, whose appeal hearing is provisionally scheduled to take place on April 22.
The hearing was due to be heard before Christmas but was postponed at the last minute. Kaneria’s lawyers have told the Daily Telegraph they will appeal to the High Court to have a deadline set for the hearing if the date in April is moved again.
“At the first disciplinary hearing [when Kaneria was banned] Westfield was their star witness and was subjected to cross examination by us,” said Farogh.
Naseem, Kaneria’s lawyer. “But that testimony will not be available to the ECB unless they are able to produce him at the appeal so we can cross examine him again.
If a witness is not available for cross examination then his evidence is not admissible and without him they have no case. We have nothing against the ECB but by delaying over the last several months they have put this cricketer’s [Kaneria] career in jeopardy.”
Kaneria was banned for life by the ECB and declared a “danger to cricket” after being named at the Old Bailey as the player who corrupted Essex team-mate Westfield, who was imprisoned for four months last year for accepting money to underperform in a one-day match in 2009.
Westfield was banned from cricket for five years but can play club cricket in the final two years of his suspension. That sentence was harsher than expected and without any incentive to cooperate with the authorities, he is believed to have severed his ties with the sport.
Initially there had been hopes he would help the Professional Cricketers’ Association in their anti-corruption education programmes.
Kaneria was banned by the ECB and not the ICC because his offences occurred in county cricket. All boards have an agreement to respect suspensions handed down by fellow boards and he has been prevented from playing domestic cricket in Pakistan.
The ECB declined to comment.