Former Essex cricketer charged in fraud probe

Mervyn Westfield
Image caption The allegation relates to Mr Westfield's performance during a 40-over match between Essex and Durham

Former Essex professional cricketer Mervyn Westfield is to be charged with conspiracy to defraud over claims he deliberately played badly in a match.

He is alleged to have dishonestly agreed to bowl against Durham on 5 September 2009 in such a way as to let a certain number of runs be scored.

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said it had instructed Essex Police to charge Mr Westfield, 22, of Chelmsford.

He is due to appear at City of London Magistrates' Court on 24 September.

The pace bowler 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 would 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.

'Defrauding spectators'

Antony Swift, of the CPS, said: "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.

"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.

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

Mr Westfield 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.

Mr Westfield was released by Essex County Cricket Club this season.

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