Ian Mill QC was unimpressed by Pat Mooney or his story and has recommended he is permanently excluded from playing any future role in snooker.
He said Mooney, "committed the most egregious betrayals of trust - both in relation to the Association, to which he owed fiduciary obligations as a Director and by reason of his great influence in the world of snooker, and to Mr Higgins whose entire career and professional future he inexplicably put at serious and wholly unjustifiable risk."
His full findings were:
'Mr Mooney’s conduct is, in my judgment, of a completely different order of seriousness. He was first made aware not later than 8 April 2010 by the undercover journalist posing as a businessman (“Mr D’Sousa”) of the fact that those behind him in the purported business venture were looking to make money through gambling in circumstances where frames in snooker matches were deliberately thrown. Yet, he made no disclosure at the time of this stated requirement to the Association, to Mr Higgins (whom he represented in snooker matters, who was one of his partners in the business (World Series Snooker) which Mr Mooney was representing in his discussions with Mr D'Sousa, and most significantly who was targeted by Mr D’Sousa as the player required to throw the frames) or to his other business partners in World Series Snooker, Debbie Mitchell and Adrian Stewart.
Furthermore, despite this requirement being stated, Mr Mooney not only continued his engagement with Mr D’Sousa thereafter but persuaded a materially ignorant Mr Higgins to accompany him to meet with those behind the venture in Kiev. He accepts that, in continuing that engagement and by the words spoken by him on 8 April 2010 he had led Mr D’Sousa to believe that the throwing of frames was something that could be achieved.
Once in Kiev, on 29 April 2010, it was made clear to Mr Mooney on several occasions (in Mr Higgins’ absence) that the subject of frame throwing had to be discussed with Mr Higgins.
Still, he said nothing to Mr Higgins until minutes before the meeting the following day.
When he did mention the subject to Mr Higgins, Mr Mooney misrepresented to him the position, stating that it was possible that the subject might not come up at all.
Furthermore, despite at the time owing fiduciary obligations to Mr Higgins as his snooker representative and to the Association itself (he was a Board Director of the Association at the time), Mr Mooney did not advise Mr Higgins to make it clear that frame throwing was out of the question, and he did not even discuss with Mr Higgins the possibility of leaving Kiev without attending the meeting. In so behaving, in my judgment, Mr Mooney was motivated by concerns as to his own position to the exclusion of all others. He had positively responded to the requirement of frame throwing in all his previous discussions and he had brought Mr Higgins to Kiev expressly to discuss this aspect of the matter. He was concerned as to the consequences for him if these assurances proved groundless.
At the meeting in Kiev on 30 April, Mr Mooney continued to represent himself as able and willing to participate in, and to procure, corrupt frame throwing. Thereafter, he neither reported the events which had occurred to the Association nor encouraged nor advised Mr Higgins to do so.
A number of points were made by and on behalf of Mr Mooney. On his behalf, Mr Phillips asserted both as a matter of law and of fact that I could not and should not find that Mr Mooney in fact intended what he represented as being his intention in his various discussions with Mr D’Sousa and in Kiev. His legal argument, which I rejected in a ruling which I delivered yesterday, was that it was not open to the Association to maintain such an argument, given its withdrawal of Charge 2. As a matter of fact, he invited me to accept Mr Mooney’s evidence that he was clear in his own mind that Mr Higgins would never deliberately throw a frame for reward and, therefore, to conclude that Mr Mooney could not in fact have intended to put the corrupt agreement asserted by the Association into effect. As to this, Mr Bourns on behalf of the Association pointed to passages in the transcripts of discussions which suggested that Mr Mooney might have had in mind to procure the throwing of frames though the activities of players other than Mr Higgins.
Mr Mooney gave evidence before me, during which he told me in terms that he did not intend to put any such corrupt agreement into effect. His explanation for his encouragement of Mr D’Sousa prior to Kiev was that he was playing along with him, humouring him, in order to get to meet those behind the venture in Kiev. He was so certain that what Mr D’Sousa was saying about the frame throwing requirement was nonsense that he had not found it necessary to inform any of the Association, Mr Higgins, Ms Mitchell or Mr Stewart of what had been said. Once in Kiev, when it rapidly became apparent to him that Mr D’Sousa had in fact been telling the truth, he was intimidated into acting as he did. He gave no explanation for the failure to report the matter to the Association thereafter.
I was unimpressed by Mr Mooney as a witness and I found much of his account highly implausible. I very strongly suspect that he intended to put the corrupt agreement alleged by the Association into effect without having decided precisely how he would do this (given that Mr Higgins would clearly not be cooperative). His motivation throughout was, I find, financial self interest, in particular having regard to the very valuable sponsorship undertakings being offered by Mr D’Sousa and his colleagues.
However, I have concluded that it is unnecessary for me to make such a factual finding, since it would have no impact on the sanctions which I have decided appropriate on the basis of factual findings that it is accepted on Mr Mooney’s behalf are open to me.
It seems to me that, on any view, in the light of the factual summary which I have set out above, even if Mr Mooney did not intend to carry out the agreement reached, he committed the most egregious betrayals of trust - both in relation to the Association, to which he owed fiduciary obligations as a Director and by reason of his great influence in the world of snooker, and to Mr Higgins whose entire career and professional future he inexplicably put at serious and wholly unjustifiable risk.
Mr Mooney resigned as a Director of the Association on 2 May 2010 and his membership of the Association (which derived from his position as a Director) was suspended (as were his privileges derived from his position as Mr Higgins’ appointed representative) on 6 May 2010.
In my judgment, both those suspensions must be made permanent. Mr Phillips on Mr Mooney’s behalf told me that his client’s involvement in the world of snooker is at an end. So it should be. That must remain the case.
I do not intend additionally to impose any financial sanction on Mr Mooney other than that he must make a contribution to the Association’s costs in the amount of £25,000. Mr Phillips has explained to me his client’s precarious financial circumstances in the light of the recent events which have unfolded. It does not seem to me in the light of that information that an Order to make payment of a fine would be proportionate.'