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Cricketer Chris Cairns 'got team-mate to help fix matches and lie to court'

A former New Zealand cricket captain persuaded a team-mate to fix matches with him and then got a friend to pressure him into lying about it during a High Court libel action, a court has heard.

Chris Cairns, who played 277 times for his country over 17 years, was regarded as a "hero, role model and legend" in the game, "the golden boy in the cricket world whom every cricketer wished to emulate".

But his reputation was shattered after the chairman of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi, accused him on Twitter in January 2010 of match-fixing while he was playing for the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League in 2008.

Cairns brought a libel action against him and successfully sued him for £1.4 million.

But Sasha Wass QC told London's Southwark Crown Court that there was evidence to prove he had actually been involved in match-fixing and had lied about it under oath.

She told the jury that Cairns' co-accused, his friend Andrew Fitch-Holland, a barrister and his "lead adviser", approached the cricketer's team-mate, Lou Vincent, to get him to lie during the libel action.

Mr Vincent not only knew Cairns had fixed matches, but was involved in match-fixing himself under the direct orders of Cairns, Miss Wass said.

During a Skype call, played to the court, Fitch-Holland told Mr Vincent: "If you can literally get a one-paragraph statement that says 'I played in the game, everything seemed OK', end of ... it makes it plain that things are a lot more straightforward than they look."

Fitch-Holland appeared to accept that both he and Mr Vincent knew the cheating had happened, saying: "... between you and I, we all know some of what is being said is clearly true", but tried to reassure him that he would never have to swear his statement was true in court.

But Mr Vincent said: "It's a big ask from me to ... in a legal document say something that isn't true", adding: "I am not proud of what has happened at all ... it's hard for me to live with what's gone on."

Miss Wass said the conversation was proof that both Mr Vincent and Fitch-Holland knew the libel case Cairns was bringing was untrue.

She said: "What that means is that Chris Cairns was guilty of match-fixing. By denying it on sworn witness statements and oath Mr Cairns was committing perjury."

Cairns, 45, from Auckland, is charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice, while Fitch-Holland, from Burton Road, Manchester, is accused of perverting the course of justice. They both deny the charges.

Cairns attempted to recruit current New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, saying he could get between 70,000 and 180,000 dollars per match to throw games while playing in the ICL in 2008, the court heard.

Cairns first approached the batsman and wicketkeeper in a hotel when he was playing for the Calcutta Knightriders, giving him an in-depth explanation of how spread-betting worked, Miss Wass said.

They then later met up in a cafe in Worcester, where a touring New Zealand team were playing against the county side.

"At that meeting Brendon McCullum says Cairns approached him and asked him whether he had changed his mind," Miss Wass told the jury.

"He said no he hadn't. Mr McCullum didn't log an official report on Cairns at the time. He should have done that. He will tell you he regrets not doing that, but will explain that Chris Cairns was such a hero to him that he could not bring himself to do that straight away."

It was not until Mr McCullum and the New Zealand team underwent anti-corruption training at the Cricket World Cup in India in 2011 that he alerted officials to what happened, Miss Wass said, but in the three years between he did tell other people.

Daniel Vittori, another former New Zealand player, and former Australian captain Ricky Ponting will both give evidence that Mr McCullum told them he was approached by Cairns.

Miss Wass said Cairns' case would be that he never approached McCullum.

The jury were also told that Mr Vincent was once threatened with a cricket bat by Cairns after scoring too many runs in a fixed ICL game, telling his then wife Eleanor Riley he had "lost Chris Cairns 250,000 dollars".

Miss Wass said Miss Riley would tell the court that she and Mr Vincent had dinner with Cairns, his wife Mel and former England captain Andrew Flintoff at the Manhattan Grill restaurant in Altrincham in the summer of 2008.

There she was reassured by Cairns that "everything would be alright because everyone was doing it" in India.

Mr Flintoff "didn't contribute to the conversation and spent the time drinking," Miss Wass said.

She added that Cairns knew he had been guilty of match fixing, he knew why he had been suspended and knew that what Mr Modi said about him was true.

Cairns was an "arrogant individual" who was "very sure of the power he held over people", she went on, saying: "The prosecution case against Mr Cairns is that he has manipulated the legal system in this country to his advantage."

The trial, which is due to last until November 20, continues on Monday.


From Belfast Telegraph