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Hair launches bid to sue ICC

Published: Monday, October 1, 2007, 10:50 [IST]
 
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LONDON :
Darrell Hair, the Australian umpire who accused Pakistan of ball-tampering in the final Test at the Oval last year, will launch his bid to sue cricket's world ruling body here.

Hair is suing his employers, the International Cricket Council (ICC), who have not allowed him to stand in a Test or one day international since last year's controversy, for racial discrimination.

Leading figures in the game, including Malcolm Speed, Dave Richardson, David Morgan and John Jameson, will be appearing in the witness box during the hearing at the Central Office of London Tribunals which could last for two weeks. Morgan, who takes office as President of the ICC on Monday, is not scheduled to be called until October 11.

The standpoint of Hair, who was 55 on Sunday, is that although he is still being paid a retainer by the ICC, the career of Billy Doctrove, his colleague and friend who stood with him at the Oval, has not been affected.

Inzamam-ul-Haq, the then captain of Pakistan who has been served a witness summons to attend the hearing on Monday, was eventually cleared of ball-tampering, but Hair, who remains on the ICC's elite panel but does not receive any match fees, was effectively sacked as an international umpire.

He has since officiated in ICC Associate matches in Kenya, Toronto and Ireland and was on the ECB's reserve list last year, officiating at grounds such as Fenner's at Cambridge and the Parks in Oxford and in women's matches.

He moved last March from his house in Lincoln to live in his native Australia with his wife Amanda.

Hair's claim for racial discrimination is based on the fact that Doctrove, a black West Indian, who will support him from the witness box along with Chris Kelly, the ECB's umpires manager, is still allocated top-level matches.

He will be represented by Robert Griffiths QC, a member of Marylebone Cricket Club's (MCC) committee who in the past represented Kerry Packer, the instigator of World Series Cricket.

Their case will be based on the premise that the umpire's decision is final.

Opposing them on behalf of the ICC is Michael Beloff QC, who chairs its disciplinary Code of Commission panel and has represented the Rugby Football Union as well as the Premier League in England.

The ICC, whose legal expenses are expected to reach one million pounds (two million dollars), will be flying in executives from all around the world in addition to Speed, its chief executive, and Richardson, its general manager.

Since filing his law suit, Hair, who flew in to London last Thursday after attending an ICC umpires seminar in South Africa, has been immersed in preparing for the hearing with his legal team and trying to relax by visiting the Hunter Valley vineyards in Australia.

Their representative lawyers have been unable to reach a settlement.

Inzamam flew back to Pakistan when his contract with Yorkshire was concluded on the last day of the season, leaving his car keys and house keys with Stewart Regan, the chief executive, and it is not clear whether he will be returning to London.

He has made himself unavailable for Pakistan's first Test against South Africa which starts Monday in Karachi but failed to offer an explanation to the national selectors.

The tribunal has no power to compel the attendance of an individual from the sub-continent, but it could decide to issue sanctions that could lead to prosecution.

Hair, who in spite of his experience has attracted hostility from the Asian countries for more than a decade over what they have considered to be his strict application of the Laws of Cricket, has spent the weekend seeing friends in England before celebrating his birthday Sunday with a dinner at his central London hotel with his wife, who works as an executive in local government in Australia.

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