Hair says life has been "hell" as tribunal begins

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LONDON, Oct 1 (Reuters) Australian umpire Darrell Hair has described the last 12 months as ''hell'' after being barred from officiating at international matches.

An employment tribunal begins in London today with Hair claiming he was the victim of racial discrimination by the International Cricket Council (ICC) following his actions in the fourth test between England and Pakistan at the Oval in August 2006.

Speaking on BBC's Inside Sport programme to be broadcast later today, the 55-year-old Hair said: ''My life has been turned upside down but I make no apologies.

''It's been pretty much hell, there's no doubt about that.'' Hair's decision to award five runs to England after accusing Pakistan of ball-tampering sparked a series of events that led to his removal from top matches by the ICC.

Pakistan initially played on until the tea interval but refused to come out after it, leading to Hair removing the bails and awarding the match to England by default.

Hair, who has umpired in 76 tests, stood by his decision although Pakistan's then captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was later cleared of ball tampering by the ICC.

The ICC said last November that following a meeting of the 10 test-playing nations, the council had ''lost confidence'' in Hair and that he would not officiate in any more internationals until his contract expired in March 2008.

ICC LAWSUIT Hair filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the ICC in February when a statement from his solicitor said ''he would not have been treated in this way if he had not been a white umpire''.

The ICC strenuously denies the allegation.

The Australian, who has had his fair share of controversy including calling Sri Lanka's record breaking off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan for ''throwing'' in 1995, said the events of the past 14 months had made him fear for his safety.

''I didn't forfeit the test match. The laws provide for things under certain circumstances and I think it was pretty clear one team was refusing to play,'' Hair told the BBC.

''If you've got the courage of your convictions you have to make those decisions and I make no apologies.

''But for an umpire to actually go into hiding for various reasons, one of them for security issues, after making a decision on the field is hard to take.

''What's become of the game when you can't make a decision without being able to go out at night?''.

The tribunal is expected to last two weeks.

REUTERS PDS BST1904

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