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Malvern match probe sees snooker star Stephen Lee banned
SNOOKER star Stephen Lee has been suspended from the sport amid an investigation into suspicious betting patterns in a match at Malvern on Thursday night.
The 38-year-old world number seven has been barred from all competition by the game’s governing body — the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA) — with immediate effect.
Lee, of Trowbridge, was already being investigated by the WPBSA following match-fixing allegations made in 2010.
He was arrested by West Midlands Police but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed with criminal charges.
However, the WPBSA’s investigation continued and only last week they met with the Gambling Commission to review material relevant to that case.
But new allegations last night surfaced following Lee’s PartyPoker.com Premier League encounter against John Higgins at Malvern’s Forum Theatre, which Higgins won 4-2.
The WPBSA say the Sky Sports-televised match was brought to their attention by various sources, including bookmakers.
A statement said: “On October 2, 2012, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that there will be no criminal proceedings in the match-fixing allegations against Stephen Lee made in 2010. Following this decision by the CPS, the WPBSA started its own investigation into these allegations.
“On October 5, 2012, the WPBSA met with the Gambling Commission in order to review material collected by the Gambling Commission which may prove relevant to the WPBSA investigation.
“The WPBSA is now in the process of conducting a thorough inquiry into the circumstances and this will be led by Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the WPBSA disciplinary committee.
“On October 12, 2012, the WPBSA was informed of suspicious betting patterns relating to a game between Stephen Lee and John Higgins played on October 11, 2012.
“This suspicious activity has also been referred to Nigel Mawer, the chairman of the WPBSA disciplinary committee.
“The WPBSA have carefully considered both the initial information from the Gambling Commission, which was reviewed on October 5, 2012, and the new information regarding suspicious betting patterns in relation to the match between Stephen Lee and John Higgins from October 11, 2012.
“The WPBSA have concluded that it would not be appropriate for Stephen Lee to continue to compete on the World Snooker Tour while these investigations are undertaken and therefore WPBSA chairman Jason Ferguson has taken the decision to suspend Stephen from competition while this inquiry is ongoing.
“Subject to his right to appeal, this suspension will remain in place until either the conclusion of the investigation or any resultant hearings.”
The governing body take a hard line on players found guilty of breaching their betting rules and in July banned Leicester professional Joe Jogia for two years.