News of the World hands over 'Higgins sting' video tapes
The News of the World has handed over to investigators all the video tapes shot during its sting operation on snooker player John Higgins.
I understand that the paper has given its unedited footage to David Douglas, a board member of the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).
The former Met Police chief superintendent was given the task of investigating accusations made by the paper in May that Higgins had agreed to fix matches in return for a £261,000 bribe.
Douglas has, in turn, passed the video tapes on to Sport Resolutions, the independent dispute resolution service for sport that will judge whether Higgins was at fault.
Higgins and his then business partner, Pat Mooney, have protested that the News of the World entrapped them into making incriminating statements during a visit to Kiev.
They argue they were plied with drink. They have also contested the credibility of tapes that were posted on the paper's website to accompany the story.
The men's lawyers have not had the opportunity to see the tapes. It was claimed in a posting on the sportingintelligence website earlier this week that they refused an offer to receive the tapes in return for agreeing not to take legal action against the News of the World.
However, if that offer was made, it did not come directly from the NoW. The paper issued a statement yesterday categorically denying the claim. It said it had not had any dealings with the lawyers representing Higgins or Mooney about the tapes.
It added: "We stand by our revelations published in May this year and have made all of our evidence available to the authorities."
Until that statement, there had been a growing belief within sporting and journalistic circles that the newspaper was about to back down over its allegations.
That view was fuelled by previous claims on the sportingintelligence site about the authenticity of the tapes. It commissioned forensic tests on the edited footage which suggested that there was substantial manipulation, with over-dubbing, chronological changes and contextual infelicities.
Higgins, who has been suspended from playing snooker by the WPBSA, will not know his fate until a Sports Resolution tribunal hearing, to be chaired by Ian Mill QC, that is set for early September
Both he and Mooney have been told of the charges they will face at the hearing.
A spokesman for Higgins said: "Throughout this process we have avoided being drawn on speculation or conjecture. Given there is a quasi-judicial procedure on going, it would be wrong for us to comment.
"We are completely focused on clearing John's name in relation to the accusations of match fixing."
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