Football 'spot-fixing' case dropped

DJ Campbell Image copyright PA
Image caption DJ Campbell was one of the six men originally arrested in December 2013

The case against 13 footballers investigated over alleged spot-fixing has been dropped due to "insufficient evidence", the CPS has said.

Prosecutors said they had looked at the "reliability of the evidence" in light of the collapse of the trial of former X Factor judge Tulisa Contostavlos.

That led to a number of cases linked to journalist Mazher Mahmood, known as the "Fake Sheikh", being reviewed.

The CPS said no further action would be taken against the players.

In April last year, seven players from Football League clubs based in the north-west of England were arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing, and another six were re-arrested over the claims.

The CPS said it did not believe there was enough evidence to "provide a realistic prospect of conviction".

A statement said: "The reliability of the evidence of one alleged witness in particular had to be very carefully considered in light of recent events in the trial of R-v-Contostavlos and Coombs.

"This was not the only evidence that was considered and when all the evidence submitted by investigators was carefully reviewed in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, it was decided that there was insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction."

Denied wrongdoing

Spot-fixing is where a player corruptly influences a specific element of a match, for example by intentionally getting a yellow card or conceding a corner, without trying to fix the final score.

The original six suspects were arrested after information was passed to the authorities by the tabloid newspaper the Sun on Sunday, for which Mr Mahmood worked.

It was revealed that then-Blackburn Rovers striker DJ Campbell and former Oldham Athletic winger Cristian Montano had been arrested as part of the probe, but both players always denied any wrongdoing.

The newspaper also published claims that former Portsmouth player Sam Sodje had told an undercover reporter that he could arrange yellow and red cards in exchange for money.

At the time, Portsmouth FC said Mr Sodje no longer played for the club but it would co-operate fully with any investigation if it was approached by the authorities.

Ms Contostavlos, who is also a pop star, was accused of brokering a cocaine deal in a newspaper sting led by Mr Mahmood.

During her trial, Judge Alistair McCreath said there were "strong grounds" to believe Mr Mahmood had lied in the witness box.

Ms Contostavlos's rapper friend Michael Coombs was also cleared after he had pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine.

Mr Mahmood, a former reporter for the News of the World, was then suspended by the Sun on Sunday.

Last month, the CPS said it was re-examining criminal convictions in 25 cases where evidence had been given by Mr Mahmood and it had offered no evidence in three live cases where the undercover reporter was a prosecution witness.

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