Pakistan High Commissioner to Britain Wajid S Hassan on Friday gave a new twist to the spot-fixing scandal involving the Pakistan cricket team, saying the three accused players were "innocent" and Indian bookmakers were involved in the whole murky episode.
"I found that all these three players were absolutely innocent. They were not involved, they have been taken for a ride and the agent (Mazhar Majeed) was the culprit, in the sense that he was responsible for defrauding some Asian bookies," Hassan said.
"The British press says Asian but if they were from Pakistan they (British media) would have called them Pakistanis, which means some Indian bookies were involved in it. This Majeed allegedly defrauded these Indian bookies and so the newspaper investigated this sort of sting operation through their sources here," he told NDTV.
Hassan's statement came even as the International Cricket Council had charged the three players - Test captain Salman Butt and pacers Mohammad Asif and Muhammad Amir with corruption offences and provisionally suspended them from all forms of the game pending a decision on the charges.
Succumbing to all round pressure, Pakistan had on Thursday dropped the tainted trio from the ODI series against England scandal but strongly defended them and vowed full support.
Refusing to accept that the three players were dropped in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal, the Pakistan High Commissioner had said the trio had opted out.
"They are extremely disturbed with what has happened in the past one week. They have maintained that they are innocent and on account of the mental torture that has hugely affected them, they are not in the right frame of mind to play any further," Hassan had said.
"Therefore, they have requested the Pakistan Cricket Board not to consider them for the rest of the matches until their names are cleared," he added.
Hassan had also raised serious doubts on the authenticity of the News of the World's expose, saying, "What is the reputation of those people who have brought us this story?"
In an interview to BBC television, Hassan had said, "We are not seeing on the video what the date is or what the time is."
"Do you have answers to these questions? The video wasn't timed or dated. It could have been filmed before or after the match, or at a different time."