SNOOKER: Lee hearing set to start today
1:36pm Sunday 8th September 2013 in Latest News
TROWBRIDGE cueman Stephen Lee began in earnest the battle to save his career today when the fixing case levelled against him by the World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association is heard.
The former world number five has won five ranking tournaments in a 20-year career that was put on hold last October when he was placed under suspension.
Lee, 38, is determined to return to the main tour and has protested his innocence.
The WPBSA announced in February Lee had a "case to answer" over alleged breaches of rules of the association in eight matches spread across four tournaments: four played at the 2008 Malta Cup, two at the 2008 UK Championship, one at the 2009 China Open and one at the 2009 World Championship.
The WPBSA, which has not detailed the specifics of the case, said it had examined information provided by the Gambling Commission, West Midlands Police and third parties in relation to the allegations.
Expected to last at least three days, and up to five, the hearing will be conducted by the independent London-based organisation Sport Resolutions at a location which has not been formally disclosed but which reportedly will be in Bristol, where the WPBSA and its commercial arm World Snooker are based.
The Sport Resolutions tribunal will be chaired by Adam Lewis QC, an experienced hand in sports law who has acted for FIFA, the British Olympic Association and Leyton Orient, the club chaired by World Snooker chairman Barry Hearn, in previous cases.
The Sunday Telegraph reported Lee will be making the short journey from his home to Bristol to defend himself against the charges.
World Snooker had been keen to keep the location private, having seen a media scrum build outside the central London law offices where John Higgins was cleared in September 2010 of match-fixing allegations. Higgins was found guilty of minor offences, resulting in a six-month ban and £75,000 fine.
After being charged by the WPBSA in February, Lee's legal team at the time said he was "shocked by the suggestions made against him" and said his suspension and the allegations were having a "considerable" impact on him and his family.
Hearn has previously warned that players found guilty of match-fixing will risk life bans from snooker.
Addressing the issue of match-fixing in the wake of the Higgins case, Hearn said that offenders would not be given a second chance.
"If you mess around with this, it's life," Hearn said in March 2011. "And all the things you built up, all the things that have been given to you, are going to be lost once and for all."
Lee's fellow professional Joe Jogia was handed a two-year ban in July 2012 after an investigation into suspicious betting patterns on a match in which Jogia played. Nigel Mawer, chairman of the WPBSA disciplinary committee, said Jogia's offences were "at the lower end".
Australian Quinten Hann was banned for eight years in 2006 for match-fixing offences after a newspaper sting in which he accepted a proposal to lose a China Open match.
While Hann remains suspended, South African Peter Francisco has returned to the game at a low level after serving a five-year match-fixing ban handed down in 1995, after his 10-2 loss to Jimmy White at the World Championship.
MORE ON THE OUTCOME OF THE LEE CASE AT WILTSHIRETIMES.CO.UK/SPORT THIS WEEK AND IN FRIDAY'S WILTSHIRE TIMES
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