The conviction, in a London court, of three young Pakistani cricketers involved in spot fixing not only shocked cricket lovers but has brought the integrity of the sport into question. More insidious is the realisation that organised crime syndicates sit behind this illegal activity and resort to any measures necessary to make their 'business'' more effective. And this explains why I'm continuing to live in London and perhaps, off the back of these stories, now is the time to explain it further with this blog.
I'm reminded of the famous quote by the former Liverpool FC manager Bill Shankly, “Football's not a matter of life and death ... it's more important than that.” In my case it is just about that!
My life in London is an issue I have been asked about on a regular basis via e-mail and on social networking sites both by the media and members of the general public. I understand the reasons for the questions - all of them fed by repeated misinformation and innuendo. So let me re-affirm my position with three, elementary and categorical statements that answer the fundamental accusations surrounding my stay here:
1 I have not "run away"
2 I have absolutely nothing to hide
3 I have not refused to co-operate with the authorities on any matter.
It is clear there has been massive misunderstanding, almost certainly contrived, about my continued exile in London and much publicity about my apparent 'refusal' to appear before disciplinary hearings back home in India. The simple fact is that I have offered the authorities the fullest co-operation my personal safety will allow and am re-iterating my position in this blog after recent stories confirmed my reasons are both real and stark.
The verdicts passed in the spot-fixing case obviously put the wider issue of corruption in sport firmly on the news agenda and a natural follow up to this news was correspondence in the possession of one broadcast outlet confirming security had been granted to me after I had been approached on a similar theme. This correspondence (click here to view) confirms the authorities knew there was a threat against my life and also that they issued personal security to combat it. During the course of my IPL tenure there were three, thankfully unsuccessful, attempts on my life. My reasons for moving to London should be easy to understand in light of the fact that this security was withdrawn without warning by the very same authorities that first alerted me to the assassination attempts and without any evidence to suggest an end to the threat to my life. While the threat remains very real to me and my family, I cannot return to India but my 'refusal' to return has been seized upon by my detractors, who have conveniently ignored the reasons why.
The reason I have not revealed this information before is because security concerns of this nature are best kept out of the public eye even though they explain my current position. You will perhaps also understand why I am trying to communicate with the authorities from afar and still do everything I can to co-operate further with the investigation of IPL related issues with my own, documented evidence.
To reiterate my position, every request for information has been answered by me. Every oral request has received an offer of questioning or interview via video conferencing. And further to that, in order to convince the authorities of my desire to participate, I have even offered to fly officers to London at my own expense to meet with me personally. It's an offer that, so far, has been refused.
I deliberately use the phrase 'desire to participate' on any allegation or issue addressed to me. I am very clear as to why. My personal and professional reputation continues to be damaged by unsubstantiated allegations that are neither proven or challenged by the media. As with all rumour and innuendo, the more it is peddled the more it becomes seen as 'fact' so let there be no doubt that I want to place my evidence firmly on record to prove my position. While I remain in London, the innuendo continues unabated and as long as the authorities refuse my offers of co-operation, the misconceptions continue. It is a convenient and so far unbroken cycle for those who question my integrity to protect their own.
The global news networks are full of stories of teams of investigators travelling to different countries to interview people. Why do they refuse to see me? Especially, when I am offering to cover their costs to mitigate my presence back home. The letters from the police confirm their acceptance of a genuine threat; a threat that has never been downgraded but was, in my opinion, increased with the withdrawal of security without warning. That's why I left. And it is the only reason I left.
But, here we are 18 months on, and not a single fact has come to light to support the unfounded allegations that are part of the investigation. Frankly, that's because there aren't any. Certainly, there are questions to be answered - many of them available in my responses to the Show Cause notices which remain in the public domain. I will continue to do everything I can to clear my name and put as much fact and make public as much information as I am legally able to. Hopefully, the stories of the last 24 hours relating to my own security, put all that firmly into perspective.