Lee To Appeal Snooker Ban

Hot on the heels of my news round-up yesterday as I pondered the likelihood of a possible appeal by Stephen Lee, the WPBSA has today confirmed that it has received notice of an appeal from Lee’s solicitors.

Aside from the fact that Lee now has legal representation, having been unrepresented at the last hearing, perhaps the most interesting point to draw is that Lee will be appealing against both the verdict itself, as well as the sanction made against him. Effectively then, this amounts to the complete denial as to all aspects of the findings made by Adam Lewis QC.

The official WPBSA statement reads as follows:

The WPBSA has received notice of appeal from solicitors representing Stephen Lee. He is appealing against the finding of the tribunal, the sanction and the costs awarded. The WPBSA has asked Sport Resolutions UK to manage the appeal process and appoint an independent QC to chair the Appeals Committee.

Lee Verdict Due Wednesday

With the snooker world waiting on news of the punishment to be handed down on Stephen Lee following the damning findings of Adam Lewis QC last week, the WPBSA today issued a statement to the effect that we will have to wait a little longer, following a hearing today.

In fact, a decision on sanction is now set to be handed down tomorrow, a not unsurprising development given the fact that a final decision could not have been reached prior today, when presumably legal representatives for both the governing body and Lee, were able to be heard.

Speculation as to the severity of the punishment that Lee may receive has been rife, with many tipping a life ban for the 2012 PTC Grand Finals champion, but it will have been the job of Lee’s team today to attempt to mitigate the guilty findings as far as possible, in the hope of minimising such any ban

Either way, a decision is expected tomorrow, more when I have it…

Stephen Lee Found Guilty of Match Fixing (Updated With WPBSA Statement)

Reports are now emerging that following the three day hearing which concluded last Wednesday in relation to allegations of match fixing, former world number five Stephen Lee has today been found guilty by Adam Lewis QC, Chair of the Independent disciplinary hearing.

According to @davehendon on Twitter, Lee’s punishment will be decided on 24th September (next Tuesday), with speculation now rife as to whether this verdict signals the end of Lee’s career.

Of course at this stage we do not know, however it is noteworthy that the judgment concludes with the following line:

“In the light of the findings above, Mr Lee will be subject to significant sanction.”

Of course Lee has now been suspended for almost a year, which would be taken into account as far as any ban is concerned.

UPDATE: Please find below the official statement from the WPBSA:

  • Click here to view the full judgment as a pdf

On 2nd October 2012, after a two year police and Gambling Commission enquiry, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with a case against Lee and others in relation to match fixing.

On 5th October 2012 the Gambling Commission referred the case back to the WPBSA.

As a result of the WPBSA being notified of suspicious betting on his match with John Higgins on 12th October 2012, Jason Ferguson the WPBSA chairman took the decision to suspend Stephen Lee from all competition pending the outcome of the case.

After receipt of some material from the Gambling Commission and further investigation, Nigel Mawer the Chair of the WPBSA Disciplinary Committee, decided that Stephen Lee had a case to answer in relation to the match fixing allegations.

The allegations were serious and related to match fixing or the provision of inside information to enable persons to win money by betting on those matches. The matches in question were three matches in the Malta Cup 2008, two matches at the UK Championship 2008, one at the China Open 2009 and one at the World Championship 2009.

The WPBSA, in accordance with its Disciplinary Rules, asked Sport Resolutions UK to appoint an independent QC to hear the available evidence. Adam Lewis QC was appointed to hear the case.

The case was heard between the 9th and 11th September 2013 in Bristol.

On 16th September 2013 Adam Lewis QC delivered the following decision:

“Stephen Lee is found guilty of “agreeing an arrangement… [and of] …accepting or receiving or offering to receive… payment or… other… benefit… in connection with influencing the outcome or conduct of” each of the seven matches in breach of Rule 2.9.”

For the full decision see www.worldsnooker.com

A hearing is set for 24th September 2013 to decide on sanction.

The facts are that between February 2008 and April 2009, Stephen Lee was in contact with three different groups of people all of whom placed bets on the outcomes of his matches or on the outcomes of frames within his matches or on the exact score of his matches.

This took place in seven matches over four tournaments. The matches were Lee v Robertson, Lee v Fu and Lee v Doherty in the Malta Cup 2008 where there was betting on the exact score and the match outcomes. Lee v Hendry and Lee v King in the UK Championship 2008 where the betting was on the outcome of the first frame in each match. Lee v Selby in the China Open where there was betting on the match outcome. Lee v Day in the World Championship where there were bets on match outcome and the exact score. In this match there was ‘in match’ betting on the outcome of the frames in progress.

The bets were placed by three groups of people. The first were organised by his then sponsor who opened multiple betting accounts with various associates. These accounts were used to place the bets. The second group were coordinated by his then manager who placed almost identical bets. The third was an individual known to Lee who placed the same bets independently of the other two groups. Lee was in contact with the groups in the lead up to the matches in question and afterwards. In one case the person collected the successful bet and placed the half of the winnings into Lee’s wife’s bank account.

The total amount bet on these matches was in excess of £111,000 leading to winnings of over £97,000 for the persons placing the bets.

It is not clear how much Lee benefited from their activity or of his motivation to get involved in match fixing.

WPBSA Chairman Jason Ferguson said: “The WPBSA have a zero tolerance approach to match fixing. We have an extensive network of contacts across the world with the gambling industry and with bodies such as the International Centre for Sport Security and the Gambling Commission. This particular case was extremely difficult and complicated to bring to a hearing. We believe we have established the world’s most sophisticated system in dealing with corruption in sport and we will take every step under the WPBSA Rules to deal with those responsible. Today’s ruling is a stark warning to competitors in any sport who could become vulnerable in the future. Stephen Lee was the number 5 player in the world and had the opportunity to be part of snooker’s great success story. His future participation in the sport is now in real doubt as he will face a significant sanction.”

Judgment Reserved In Stephen Lee Hearing

With no ranking event snooker to be played this week, all eyes have been on the long-awaited disciplinary hearing concerning Stephen Lee, which began in Bristol on Monday.

The latest news from Adam Lewis QC, Chair of the Independent disciplinary hearing, is that judgment has been reserved, with his findings to be delivered ‘in due course’. It has been suggested by Snooker Scene’s Dave Hendon on Twitter that judgment will be handed down either later this week, or early next week.

While the procedure in this case may be somewhat different to what I am used to, as someone who works in the legal profession myself, this comes as no surprise as it will inevitably take some time to prepare a judgment suitable to be handed down, let alone come to a decision and any potential sanction.

I have also heard that any judgment will be made open to the public, something that I feel is an important move in the interests of transparency going forward.

More news as and when I get it…

WPBSA Statement: Stephen Lee

On 14th February 2013 Stephen Lee was charged with serious breaches of the WPBSA members rules (Betting Rules) in relation to 8 matches over 4 tournaments in 2008-9. As per the WPBSA Disciplinary Rules, the WPBSA requested that SR UK appoint an individual to sit as an independent Disciplinary Hearing Board to hear the case against him.

On 7th March 2013 Adam Lewis QC was appointed by SR UK to act as the Independent Disciplinary Hearing Board. A timetable was set down for the proceedings and this was agreed by those representing Mr Lee. The WPBSA has met all the requirements set down by the Independent Disciplinary Hearing Board, unfortunately Mr Lee has not. This has caused significant delays to the process which have been compounded by Mr Lee changing his legal advisers on three occasions.

On Monday 17th June 2013, Mr Lewis set a new timetable for the proceedings and a date of 9th September 2013 for the case to be heard.