John Higgins Videoed Accepting 300,000 Euro Bribe

According to News of the World, World Snooker champion John Higgins has been videotaped taking a bribe to throw matches. Here is the story. You may see the video at:

MILLIONAIRE World Snooker champion John Higgins is captured here on camera shaking hands on a disgraceful deal to fix a string of high-profile matches after demanding a £300,000 kickback.

The scandal will cast a dark shadow over the final of this year's championship which starts today and disgust the millions of fans tuning into the BBC to watch their sporting idols.

After 34-year-old Higgins' shock defeat in the tournament at the hands of veteran Steve Davis, he flew to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and in a meeting with undercover News of the World investigators on Friday shamelessly:

  • AGREED to deliberately LOSE frames in four matches so that illegal gambling syndicates could clean up.
  • HAGGLED over the best ways to cover up the bribe - finally settled at Euro 300,000 (£261,000).
  • BRAGGED it was "easy" to fool fans into believing they were watching genuine snooker action.

Astonishingly, the entire deal was set up and agreed with Higgins' agent Pat Mooney, a board memeber of the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association and one of the sport's top four officials charged with POLICING the game.

At first, Greedy Mooney and Higgins saw the chance of making a legal fortune out of our team, who were posing as businessmen interested in organising a series of events linked to the World Snooker Series - effectively a European Tour of snooker.

But they could not resist the lure of making extra illegal cash on the side from game fixing.

During the 10-minute conversation that sealed their crooked deal Higgins never once questioned the legality or morality of cheating for cash.

Instead he was more interested in how he could HIDE the massive payments he'd get.

Asked by our man if there was any danger he might not be able to deliver on his promise to lose a certain frame, Higgins - who was awarded the MBE for his services to sport - insisted: "It's easy, it's easy!"

Then came the subject of how he'd get paid and he bleated:

"But then I'm thinking to myself how do I swallow 300,000 pounds or Euros coming in. . . ?"

Father-of-three Higgins - who has won the coveted world crown three times and is nicknamed the Wizard of Wishaw - was not worried about the disgrace his tricks could bring on the game.

He was more concerned about covering his back.

Dressed in a pin-striped suit, Higgins at one point even jokingly asked if there were hidden cameras in the plush Kiev hotel suite - little suspecting that every word WAS being captured by our team, who he'd met for the first time just hours earlier.

Having raised the subject of match fixing with Higgins' grasping manager Mooney at previous meetings, our investigators sat down with the two men on Friday morning to sort out the mechanics of the scam.

The idea agreed earlier by Mooney was for Higgins to deliberately lose four frames in separate tournaments. Now the player himself had to rubber-stamp the details. .

REPORTER: "Right, this will purely be four, we'll shake hands on it and that's the end of the matter. But more important is how would you lose a frame? That's what I want to know, how would that work?

"Because, you know, you're the bloody world champion!"

HIGGINS: "Who would it be against?"

REPORTER: "Well you tell me. I mean. . . you can't lose against a Ukrainian player here and then go to Warsaw and lose against a Polish, go to bloody Prague and lose against a Czech.

"That's stupid, that's plain stupid. And it doesn't make financial sense for these guys (the shady betting syndicates financing the proposed events).

"It has to be against somebody that is. . ."

HIGGINS: "Against somebody that's goodish and it's easier."

REPORTER: "Against someone like one of the other boys (meaning other top names who'd be joining in the tournament). No one needs to know."

Mooney and Higgins then suggested THREE prominent stars of the game by name.

HIGGINS: "It's easy. Its easy."

MOONEY: "You make one mistake. . ."

HIGGINS: "You don't even have to make a mistake."

REPORTER: "You have to be sure if you're going to tell him 'Frame three I'm going to lose."

HIGGINS: "Oh yeah. Frame three I'm going to lose, yes, yes."

REPORTER: "Yeah, but I mean what if he gets a good break? What's the risk factor I mean?"

HIGGINS: "No risk. No, because you can miss."

Having agreed to the proposed deal, Higgins and Mooney were keen to discuss the money - even suggesting that it be hidden as a payment for wearing a sponsor's logo on Higgins' waistcoat.

And they raised the possibility the illicit payment be hidden as a sponsorship deal which, under EU rules, would allow them to avoid tax.

Not that the star needs the money - he has banked more than £5 million prize money since turning professional in 1992 and winning his first tournament two years later.

As the talks continued, Higgins - now playing an active role in the discussions - had his own ideas about how the cash could be paid over without raising the suspicions of the authorities.

Turning to Mooney, he said: "I've got a property in Spain.

"I'm thinking to myself... is there any way. . . if you get a small mortgage or something on the property and you can pay it off. Would they look me out if you paid it off in a lump sum?"

Mooney replied: "They would be asking where that money came from."

All Higgins' ducking and diving will shock fans who admire his straightforward family image. The keen Celtic supporter married wife Denise in 2000 and have two sons and a daughter. Earlier this year the couple appeared on ITV's Mr and Mrs show which they won. And after last year's World Championship victory, Higgins paid a special tribute to his wife.

He said: "Denise is the biggest drive behind me these days.

"I think all snooker players can get a bit selfish and lazy. You get down on yourself and start to think you won't win anything ever again. Then it's up to the wives, who are basically kicking you up the backside and telling you that you are good enough."

Denise will be telling him something else today.

For, still obsessed with his own safety and hiding the illicit payments rather than the image of snooker itself, Higgins told our men: "I'm just frightened that obviously. . . "

MOONEY: "That it comes up on the radar?"

HIGGINS: "It is a hell of a lot of money."

REPORTER: "For a professional bloody snooker player? I mean you earned something like close to a million last year didn't you? The books show you earned 500 something thousand."

HIGGINS: "Yeah, what I am saying is that it is a hell of a lot of money. . . "

MOONEY: ". . . to kind of appear."

Then Higgins seems to be wondering how much the backroom paymasters will making.

HIGGINS: "Let me get this straight. For four frames, so you're thinking, divide that, £75,000. You've got to earn more than that per frame."

REPORTER: "Don't you worry about our side. You worry about your side. How you want to get paid?"

HIGGINS: "I'm not worrying about your side."

As the conversation continued, our reporter once again checked that Higgins was clear about what was expected of him, losing four separate frames, one per tournament.

Higgins simple damning response was a definite: "Yes!"

Moments later the snooker star and his agent rose to their feet and shook hands to seal their dodgy deal.

Top boss pledges enquiry

SNOOKER'S top official Barry Hearn was "mortified" to learn of the bribery scandal - and pledged an immediate inquiry.

SHOCK: Hearn
SHOCK: Hearn

Mr Hearn. Chairman of the World Professional Snooker and Billiards Association - of which Mooney is also a senior executive - said it was "a massive blow to the integrity of the sport."

The shocked sports boss said: "Mooney is a fellow director on the WPBSA, I am absolutely mortified.

"He is someone I am working with closely on the rejuvenation and revitalisation of snooker.

"He is in a very responsible position.

"If these allegations against the World Champion John Higgins and Mooney are true it is a very serious matter indeed and a massive, massive blow to the integrity of the sport.

"We have stringent disciplinary procedures for players bringing the game into disrepute.

"My views about cheating are well known.

"We will launch an immediate inquiry which will be led by former Chief superintendent David Douglas who I appointed to the board only last week.

"It's a very serious matter that we will look into immediately and take firm action."