A newspaper reporter investigating a businessman accused of being at the heart of a match-fixing ring has told a court she thought he was just a conman looking to dupe potential financiers.

Claire Newell, the Daily Telegraph's investigative editor, said she was not entirely convinced Chann Sankaran could fix the outcome of a non-league football games by bribing players as she said he claimed.

Sankaran, 33, is standing trial for his part in an alleged match fixing group alongside Krishna Ganeshan, 44, and former Whitehawk FC players Michael Boateng, 22, Hakeem Adelakun, 23, and Moses Swaibu, 25.

Giving evidence on the third day of the trial at Birmingham Crown Court, Ms Newell said the paper met with Sankaran, who was living in Hastings, but feared he was merely “scamming” them.

Sankaran, of Hawthorn Road, Hastings, and Ganeshan, of Hougang Avenue, Singapore, deny conspiracy to commit bribery and three further counts of bribery by offering the players cash.

Boateng, of Davidson Road, Croydon, Adelakun, of Mayfield Crescent, Thornton Heath and Swaibu, of Tooley Street, London, all deny bribery.

The trial continues.