Badsnookerplayer wrote: Pink Ball wrote:
Badsnookerplayer wrote:I have never seen conclusive proof.
I would love to see it.
The match that was the centre of the case never gave me cause for concern.
Is it possible that Lee was just a marked man for some reason?
Yes, he was a marked man for some reason, that reason being that he was fixing lots of matches.
Show me the proof then.
Any link will do.
Certainly. Here’s an extended summary from Blackstone Chambers:
The evidence that the tribunal found to be sufficient in Stephen Lee’s case can be summarised as follows.
(1) “Extraordinary betting”: First, there was evidence of highly unusual betting patterns by three different groups of bettors, who placed unusually high bets on Mr Lee’s performances in the matches in question, significantly out of line with the market and their own betting patterns. Furthermore the bets were placed on multiple betting platforms. The WPBSA submitted, and the tribunal accepted, that the probability was that such bets had been placed on the basis of inside information.
Furthermore, the bets were substantially successful, and where they were not they still suggested impropriety. So, for example, the WPBSA submitted that where there were unsuccessful bets on the matches in question by the groups of associated bettors, it could be explained as a consequence of the bettor hedging against the player’s inability (despite best efforts) to deliver the exact score-line. So if the player had said he would lose 10-4, it would be prudent to hedge with a bet on 10-5 or 10-3, because the odds were long enough to deliver a good profit even with the additional stake, and the prospects of success were very significantly enhanced.
(2) Evidence of pre-planning: The second strand in the case against Mr Lee was that in several cases accounts had been opened shortly before the Malta Cup and UK Championship matches, suggesting pre-planning by each of the groups.
(3) Evidence of concealment: The third strand in the case against Mr Lee was evidence that the groups of bettors had made attempts to conceal the betting activity, such as by opening accounts in different names and using proxy accounts.
(4) Association with betting groups: The fourth strand of the case against Mr Lee was the fact that he could be linked to each of the three groups and that he placed telephone calls to persons in each of the groups shortly before the suspect betting. Although the content of the telephone communications was not available, the WPBSA placed reliance on the timing of the calls and onward communications in comparison to the opening of betting accounts and the timing of suspect bets being placed. Perhaps most damning of all, Mr Lee had received payments from the betting groups, which he sought to characterise as legitimate repayments of loans and win bonuses under a sponsorship agreement.
(5) Suspect management of financial affairs: it was pointed out that Mr Lee managed his financial affairs in a suspicious manner: he did not have a bank account but used that of his wife’s. Payments were made to his babysitter to be passed to him in cash.
(6) Credibility of testimony: Sixthly, the tribunal also found Mr Lee to be an unsatisfactory witness and did not believe his explanation for the payments that he received. The tribunal referred to the unconvincing nature of answers to questions. It also referred to the fact that he had admitted inaccuracies in in statements previously given to the police and the fact that the nature of these inaccuracies—which related to the extent of his acquaintances with some of the bettors—suggested attempts at concealment of evidence. Interestingly, the tribunal also referred to Mr Lee’s failure to provide disclosure including, for instance, disclosure of his wife’s bank account records.
This sixth factor is worthy of particular emphasis. It makes clear that although the burden of proof remains on the prosecuting body, there are real risks for defendants in not providing full and candid responses to charges, including disclosure, in match fixing cases. It can lead to adverse inferences and adverse credibility findings being made, which may ultimately be determinative.
Overall, then, the Stephen Lee decision demonstrates that even in the absence of direct evidence of match fixing or of any obviously suspicious performances, match fixing charges can be proved in disciplinary proceedings, with potentially career-ending consequences.
This is of undoubted importance to the fight against match fixing given the difficulties in uncovering evidence that it has taken place. It stands as a clear warning to those persons who engage in or may be tempted to engage in such practices.
But even so, a very detailed and carefully constructed case was presented to the tribunal by the WPBSA. This case benefitted substantially from the fact that there had been a police investigation into Stephen Lee in 2012. In October 2012 the police had decided that there was insufficient evidence to bring criminal charges but the evidence the police had compiled was crucial to the WPBSA in the subsequent disciplinary proceedings and, as we have seen, it was sufficient for the WPBSA to meet the civil standard of proof.