London: Lord Paul Condon, head of the International Cricket Council's (ICC's) anti- graft unit, has praised the professionalism of India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for investigating match-fixing allegations and played down allegations of murder in his cricket corruption report. "Legal processes are quite slow, but certainly I hope by the end of this year all the allegations that were made in the thoroughly professional CBI report will have been resolved," Condon said. In the exclusive interview with IANS, the first since his report was published on the Internet on Wednesday, Condon also stressed, "Most match-fixing isn't about murder and organised crime, most of it is much lower level than that. Of course, those who have been following the story know that allegations have been made of at least one murder and a kidnapping linked to these events in recent years. But that's not the core of the report or its main suggestion that this is a recent event." "The major thrust of what we found was that although we think we helped stop a great deal of the corruption that was going, there's still a small core of people involved," he said. "What I've done is given the ICC a list of 24 recommendations which I think will give a much stronger chance of stopping this." During the interview he gave before leaving for Pakistan, Condon repeatedly stressed he had been given an international brief by the ICC and was not beholden to the Cricket Board of any particular country. Asked why the England cricket authorities appeared to be dragging their feet with regard to investigating allegations against individuals like Alec Stewart, Condon replied, "He's been interviewed here with his solicitor and will be interviewed again formally as will all the cricketers who were named in the CBI report." "There is a full criminal investigation into allegations that Chris Lewis, the England player, raised and a full report has been submitted by the police. That doesn't relate to Alec Stewart but Alec Stewart is in exactly the same position as allegations made against the other overseas players in the CBI report." "Chris Lewis alleged quite separately from the CBI report that he was approached by bookmakers to fix matches in England. Stephen Fleming, the New Zealand player, also said the same people approached him. That led to a full criminal investigation and that the report is with the prosecuting authorities." Condon said he did not believe that further inquiries into match-fixing and other corruption allegations would from now on be swept under the carpet. If that were to happen, he said, "I would not stay involved." Asked if he thought his recommendations to stamp out corruption went far enough, Condon replied, "I am confident that we have given world cricket a packet of recommendations that will have a positive impact. "One of my most important recommendations is a full time member of staff who worries about these issues in each of the boards. "It should be someone like myself who is a former policeman, or a former military person, someone with that sort of background who can be around the team and make sure that people are protected I don't think it can be right that people have easy access to the team to corrupt them." Commenting on his trip to Pakistan Condon added, "The timing is purely coincidental, in the sense that it was arranged for months and months. It so happened that I'm visiting Pakistan this week and that just leaves me two Test playing countries to visit - Bangladesh and West Indies - but I have visited all the others and some of the associate playing members." "I've had a great deal of support from General (Taukir) Zia, the chairman (of the Pakistan Cricket Board)," he said. "I can understand their anxiety having an outsider (as the head of the ICC investigation), particularly someone from England, but I see myself and my team serving all the Test playing nations, regardless of our own backgrounds."
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