London: Former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns has been cleared of perjury and perverting the course of justice.
A delighted Chris Cairns speaks talks to the media outside Southwark Crown Court in central London yesterday. Pic/AFP
Cairns, 45, faced trial after he successfully sued former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi for accusing him of match fixing on Twitter in 2010. The libel case netted Cairns £90,000, but he was alleged to have lied to the court when he said he had "never, ever cheated at cricket".
The retired all-rounder was said to have perverted the course of justice by inducing fellow cricketer Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype call.
But following a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, Cairns was found not guilty by a jury on both charges.
His friend and "legal adviser", barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, 50, of Burton Road, Manchester, was also cleared of perverting the course of justice.
After 10 hours of deliberations the jury was directed to acquit the lawyer by Justice Sweeney in light of the cricketer's acquittal. Cairns, of Auckland, New Zealand, captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which flourished briefly before the ascendancy of the IPL, in 2007 and 2008.
The allegation made by Modi related to the second and third of these competitions, between March and April 2008 and October and November that year.
The jury heard evidence from a host of former cricketers including Vincent, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Andre Adams, Chris Harris and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.
Vincent claimed he was involved in the fixing scandal under "direct orders" from his former captain, while current New Zealand skipper McCullum said Cairns approached him with a "business proposition" about match fixing.
'Horror and anger'
Cairns said he reacted with "horror" and "anger" when Modi accused him of match fixing and he was "shocked" that McCullum could accuse him of trying to recruit him to fix results.
He told the court he discussed the topic of "spot fixing" with McCullum in April 2008 in Kolkata and explained spread-betting to him because match fixing was "topical" in India at the time.
Cairns said there was "minimal" time spent discussing match fixing, and said it was "completely wrong" to suggest spread-betting was the equivalent to match fixing.
During an emotional statement outside court Cairns said he had been through "hell" and would not be returning to cricket. "It has not been a victory as such, because in a case like this there are no winners. It's been hell for everyone involved." Asked if he would work in the sport again, he replied: "No, no, no."
He added: "It's my choice. I think it would be quite a hard environment to go back into. There has been a lot of damage done and I think that's unfortunate." The cricketer fought back tears as he described the strain of being away from his family for nearly three months.
The International Cricket Council notes the decision of the jury finding Mr Chris Cairns not guilty and confirms its utmost respect for the process that has been followed. The ICC and its ACU will continue to work closely with and provide all possible support to players in order that the fight against corruption can be tackled effectively and collectively. The ICC will not make any further comment on this matter
I am aware of the verdict at Southwark Crown Court. As you know I am limited in what I can say as I am restricted by the injunction put in place following the 2012 libel trial. I will consider how this affects my own civil claim against Mr Cairns in due course