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Cricketer Cairns pleads not guilty

Former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns today denied lying in a match-fixing libel action by saying he "never, ever cheated at cricket and nor would he ever contemplate such a thing".

Smartly dressed in a dark suit and red tie, the 44-year-old appeared before the Old Bailey to enter a not guilty plea to a charge of perjury and to perverting the course of justice by inducing fellow cricketer Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype call.

Cairns faces the allegations in light of being awarded £90,000 in damages after he sued Lalit Modi, founder of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, over an accusation of match-fixing made on Twitter in January 2010.

Alongside him in the dock was barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, who denied one count of perverting the course of justice.

The pair stood side by side and spoke only to confirm their names and enter not guilty pleas to the charges as they were read out before the senior judge, Mr Justice Sweeney.

The judge adjourned the case for a pre-trial hearing on a date to be fixed in July ahead of a four-week trial fixed to take place at Southwark Crown Court on October 5.

Cairns, of Seaview Road, Remuera, Auckland and Fitch-Holland, 49, of Burton Road, Manchester, were granted continued unconditional bail.

The first charge against states: "Christopher Lance Cairns between 1st October 2010 and the 31st of March 2012 having been lawfully sworn as a witness in a judicial proceeding, namely the trial of a libel action in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in England in which one Chris Lance Cairns was claimant and one Lalit Modi was defendant, you unlawfully made a statement material in that proceeding which you knew to be false that he had never, ever cheated at cricket and nor would he ever contemplate such a thing."

The second charge states: "Andrew Fitch-Holland and Chris Lance Cairns between 3rd March 2011 and 24th March 2011 with the intention to pervert the course of justice did acts which had the tendency to pervert the course of justice namely i) arranged to approach Lou Vincent with a view to his providing a false witness statement in support of Christopher Lance Cairn's libel action against Lalit Modi in the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in England and ii) induced Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype conversation with your intended consequence that Christopher Lance Cairn's libel action would be successful."

A trial was fixed to take place during the "cricket desert" when there are few fixtures in the sport's calender.

Cricketers from around the world are expected to give evidence in the case in person, rather than via video link.

In 2007 and 2008, Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which flourished briefly before the ascendancy of the IPL.

The allegation made by Mr Modi related to the second and third of these competitions, between March and April 2008 and October and November that year.

After learning he would be charged, Cairns said in a statement that he had "nothing to hide'' and he would do "whatever it takes'' to prove his innocence.

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