Ken Doherty says the only thing his friend John Higgins has been guilty of is stupidity.

The Scot, a two-time world champion, was caught talking about accepting bribes for missing shots by undercover ‘News of the World’ reporters in a hotel in the Ukraine earlier this year.

Snooker chief Barry Hearne has promised to clean up the sport and welcomed the independent judgment that Higgins had merely brought the game into disrepute, which has resulted in a six-month suspension, rather than the more serious corruption charge of match-fixing.

Doherty acknowledges that it will take the snooker public a long time to regain their trust in Higgins. Imagine the next time he misses a mid-range red or a black off its spot. Unfortunately, unfair or not, the one thing that won’t cross their mind is that he’s simply been stupid.