West Indies blast Lanka police over women-in-room row

Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2002, 2:26 [IST]
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Colombo: West Indies manager Rickey Skerritt on Monday accused Sri Lankan police bodyguards of "high-handed and authoritative" behaviour after a move to crack down on women entering hotel rooms of players. Skerritt's lawyers, in a letter to a local newspaper, which on Monday published a report of a police complaint, said that "interested parties" were trying to "sully the good name of our client". Police had said in a letter to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that three women were found in the rooms of Skerritt and his computer operator, Garfield Smith, in violation of the strict ICC access control rules. The ICC sought police protection for the Champions Trophy tournament, which started on September 12 and is due to continue until the end of the month, not so much to protect players, but to make sure they don't get up to dirty tricks. The tight regulations were aimed at preventing bookmakers or their agents coming into contact with the players taking part in the mini-World Cup tournament. "Our client, since his arrival in Sri Lanka, has repeatedly complained to the International Cricket Council's security officials about the behaviour and attitude of certain security personnel, assigned to the team hotel, who have been high handed, authoritative and officious in acting well beyond their scope of duty," Skerritt's law firm said in their letter to the newspaper. "Our client has also had to admonish certain media personnel who were attempting to vilify certain members of the West Indian team and invade their privacy." They said the report contained "absolute falsehoods and innuendos made deliberately with the intention of causing damage and embarrassment to our client's good name and reputation. "The insinuation that three prostitutes were found in the rooms of our client and his colleague, Garfield Smith is false, mischievous and malicious." The police report to the ICC gave the names of the three women who were found in the rooms of the two men and said the authorities had begun an investigation to check if the women had a criminal record or were linked to bookies. Elite police units deployed to guard the teams taking part in the Champions Trophy tournament were having a tough time keeping out prostitutes in addition to crooked players and bookies, the authorities had said on Sunday. "We are not making a moral judgment but are simply trying to enforce the 'access control' guidelines issued to us by the cricket authorities," a top police official said. Police said some of the players were leaving their hotel to side-step the tight security at the deluxe Taj Samudra where plain-clothed policemen have been deployed to check on those meeting the cricketers. The 'Sunday Leader' newspaper said players were seen trying to pick up women at the Taj Samudra and even two women reporters had been propositioned by unnamed players in the hotel lobby. More than 300 plain-clothed police are being deployed for the largely covert operations during the tournament, officials said. This is in addition to uniformed police for usual crowd control at match venues in the capital.

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