Pakistan Sports Minister Aijaz Jakhrani has threatened to sue the British tabloid, which has exposed the spot-fixing scandal involving the nation's cricket team, if the tainted trio of Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Muhammad Amir come out clean in the investigations.
Jakhrani maintained that the three players were innocent until proven guilty and the Pakistan government will take the newspaper to the court if the allegations were found untrue.
"A player is the representative of a country. Salman Butt is a Pakistan player, so are Asif and Amir. So it is the name of the country which is at stake. In case the allegations are not proved, definitely we will file a case and sue them (the newspaper). British laws are strict in this regard," Jakhrani told a Pakistani TV channel.
The Sports Minister also refused to accept that the tainted players were dropped from the Twenty20 and ODI series in the wake of the spot-fixing scandal, saying they have been withdrawn to facilitate investigation.
"The investigation is being done by Scotland Yard in London and the team is now based and will play their matches outside London (Taunton)," he said.
"The three players arrived in London on Thursday with regard to investigation and will remain busy with the investigations. So, they won't get any time to practice and that's why they have been kept aside," Jakhrani insisted.
Jakhrani's statement came even as the International Cricket Council had charged the players with corruption offences and provisionally suspended the trio from all forms of the game pending a decision on the charges.