Brendon McCullum, the former New Zealand captain who gave match-fixing evidence at Southwark Crown Court last year against his former team-mate and one-time hero Chris Cairns, has used the MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture to criticize the approach of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.
Cairns was effectively cleared of any involvement in match-fixing at the end of a nine-week trial in November, but complained that his reputation in cricket had been “scorched” despite being found not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice.
The first count, that of perjury, would have carried a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment and related to his successful 2012 libel action against Lalit Modi, the founder of the IPL, at the High Court in London.
In the course of the libel trial, Cairns stated that he had “never” cheated at cricket, and nor would he contemplate doing so, a statement that attracted the interests of the Crown Prosecution Service in the wake of leaked testimony given by his former team-mates, Lou Vincent and McCullum, to the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU).
McCullum told MCC members at Lord’s that he stood by the evidence he gave at the trial but condemned his first interview a member of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit as “casual”.
He said of the official: “[He] took notes –– he did not record our conversation. He said he would get what I said down on paper and that it would probably end up at the bottom of the file with nothing eventuating.
“Looking back on this, I am very surprised by what I perceive to be a very casual approach to gathering evidence. I was reporting two approaches by a former international star of the game. I was not asked to elaborate on anything I said and I signed a statement that was essentially nothing more than a skeleton outline.”
McCullum made three statements in all, offering progressive detail, and said of his third statement to the Metropolitan Police: “Suffice to say, they were streets ahead in terms of professionalism. They asked me so many questions, testing my memory, and took a much more comprehensive brief.”
McCullum went on: “I don’t think either of us could ever have foreseen that my first statement would be used in a perjury trial in London four years after it was made. But the point I wish to make is that it must have been feasible that I would have to give evidence somewhere, sometime. I think players deserve better from the ICC and that, in the future, the evidence gathering exercise has to be much more thorough, more professional.
“In my opinion a person taking a statement should ensure that the witness is advised about what may occur – that if evidence were to be given in the future and the witness did not put everything in that initial statement or changed what they said in any way, then this would likely impact on their credibility.
“When I made my first statement to the ICC, my impression was that it would be put in the bottom draw and never see the light of day again. No attempt was made to elicit a full and comprehensive statement from me on that occasion.”
Referring to his “moral obligation” to give evidence, McCullum said: “I do wish that the ICC had handled my initial approach more professionally.”
McCullum also complained that his evidence was leaked to the Daily Mail. “No witness who has provided evidence to the ICC should ever have to go through such a scenario again. The leak has never been explained to me; to my knowledge no one has been held accountable and, in those circumstances, it is difficult to have confidence in the ICC,” he said.
“To report an approach and to give evidence requires considerable courage – players deserve much better. How can the game’s governing body expect players to co-operate with it when it is then responsible for leaking confidential statements to the media?
“It goes without saying that if players do not have confidence in the organisation, they will be reluctant to report approaches and the game is worse off. If we are to get rid of the scourge of match-fixing, a robust governing body is essential.”