Chris Cairns, the former “golden boy” of New Zealand cricket who stands accused of lying under oath to win a £1.4million libel settlement, was described as believing he was “untouchable” as the prosecution laid out its case in his trial at Southwark Crown Court in London.
Cairns, whom prosecutor Sasha Wass QC described as a “legend” of the game, appeared in the dock to answer charges of perjury and, in conjunction with his co-defendant and former attorney Andrew Fitch-Holland, perverting the course of justice. Both men deny the charges, which relate to Cairns’ 2012 libel action against Lalit Modi, the former commissioner of the Indian Premier League.
Cairns successfully sued Modi at the High Court in London following a Twitter message in 2010 in which Modi had alleged that Cairns had been excluded from that year’s IPL auction list “due to his past record of match fixing” in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL).
“The prosecution case against Mr Cairns is that he manipulated the legal system in this country to his advantage,” said Wass. “Chris Cairns knew he had been guilty of match-fixing, he knew why he had been suspended and he knew what Mr Modi tweeted about him was true.
“But Mr Cairns was an arrogant individual and very sure of the power he held over the people around him. This is what he did: he lied in witness statements, he lied on oath and he arranged that others should give false evidence on his behalf.
“After all, the only people who knew for certain that Mr Cairns was engaged in match fixing were those people who had been match fixing with him. Why would they want to give evidence to that effect in court?
“So Mr Cairns had a free rein: he could protest his good name and spotless reputation to the rooftops, knowing or believing that he was untouchable.”
The prosecution allege that Lou Vincent, the former New Zealand batsman who was a team-mate of Cairns’ at Chandigarh Lions in the ICL, was persuaded by Fitch-Holland to provide a false witness statement to support Cairns’ libel case. Vincent was last year handed a life ban by the ECB after admitting to taking money to under-perform.
During a Skype call, played to the court, Fitch-Holland told Vincent: “If you can literally get a one-paragraph statement that says ‘I played in the game, everything seemed okay, end of . . . it makes it plain that things are a lot more straightforward than they look.”
In the recording, Fitch-Holland appeared to accept that both he and Vincent knew the cheating had happened, saying: “… between you and I, we all know some of what is being said is clearly true”. However, he tried to reassure Vincent that he would never have to swear his statement was true in court.
Vincent, however, expressed his concerns: “It’s a big ask from me to … in a legal document say something that isn’t true”, he said, adding: “I am not proud of what has happened at all . . . it’s hard for me to live with what’s gone on.”
Wass said the conversation was proof that all parties knew the libel case that Cairns was bringing was untrue.
The case continues at 10 a.m. on Monday.