London: British prosecutors on Thursday charged former New Zealand great Chris Cairns with perjury. The charge relates to a 2012 libel action that Cairns successfully brought against former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi over a tweet accusing the all-rounder of match-fixing during his time in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL).
While Cairns, 44, has been charged with one count of perjury, a friend who appeared as a witness at the libel trial, lawyer Andrew Fitch-Holland, has been charged with perverting the court of justice. The two men were formally charged on Thursday after attending a central London police station and are due to appear before a court in London on October 2. Cairns could face seven years in prison if found guilty.
The Metropolitan Police said that two other people arrested over the investigation, a 33-year-old woman and a 36-year-old man, had been released without charge. Cairns, who won Â£90,000 ($146,000) in the libel action against Modi, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing.
Speaking after Britain's Crown Prosecution Service confirmed he was to be charged with perjury earlier this month, he said: "I'm obviously extremely disappointed. "However, at least there will now be an opportunity to face my accusers in an open forum, with some rigour and proper process around that, so that I can clear my name once and for all."
Fitch-Holland, 49, was previously involved in a case against the England and Wales Cricket Board when they banned players who had appeared in the ICL in 2008. Cairns's former team-mate Lou Vincent, who was banned for life earlier this year for match-fixing, has alleged that a world-famous international dubbed 'Player X' lured him into a murky world of corruption that included offers of cash and sex to rig matches.
Cairns has said that he believes he is the player to whom Vincent was referring, but has questioned his accuser's credibility, describing the allegations he faces as "absurd, bizarre and scary". He retired from international cricket in 2004 after becoming one of only 12 players in Test history to complete the 'double' of 200 wickets and 3,000 runs.