DateLine: 3rd October 2007
Australian cricket umpire Darrell Hair tried to "blackmail" the International Cricket Council (ICC) into paying him off through "sheer mudslinging", an employment tribunal heard on Wednesday.
ICC lawyer Michael Beloff accused Hair of trying to pressurize the body into paying him off by threatening to go public with allegations of racism, in the wake of a controversial decision against Pakistan at the Oval last year.
Hair was one of two umpires officiating in the fourth and final Test between England and Pakistan at The Oval who awarded England five penalty runs because they believed Pakistan had illegally tampered with the ball.
Pakistan were incensed by the decision and refused to return to the pitch after the tea interval. The match was eventually awarded to England, who took the series 3-0.
Hair is suing the ICC for alleged racial discrimination because he says that, while he has not been allowed to officiate in Test matches since, his co-umpire Billy Doctrove, a West Indian, has escaped censure.
But Beloff accused him of "sheer mudslinging".
"What you were hoping to do was cause the ICC maximum embarrassment and cajole them into making some sort of offer to you," claimed Beloff.
Beloff noted emails which Hair sent in the aftermath of the Oval test, in which first he offered to resign for a one-off payment of 500,000 US dollars (350,000 euros), then revised the offer after speculation about possible racism allegations.
"I suggest that this is an example of you saying 'if you don't accept the offer, I am going to make all sorts of allegations around the racism issue.' "It was blackmail, wasn't it?" he said.
Hair said it was not blackmail, but admitted that he regretted having sent the emails.
Beloff also described as a "scurrilous smear" allegations by Hair that Pakistan Cricket Board head Nasim Ashraf had reputedly been involved in financial irregularities.
(Article: Copyright © 2007 AFP)
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