Top cricketers to give evidence in Chris Cairns perjury trial


Former Australia and New Zealand cricket captains Ricky Ponting, Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori will be called to give evidence in the trial of fellow player Chris Cairns, who is accused of lying during a match-fixing libel action.

Cairns, 45, also a former captain of New Zealand's Black Caps, faces charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice in relation to a libel case he brought against Lalit Modi, founder of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, over an accusation of match-fixing he made on Twitter in January 2010.

Cairns was awarded £90,000 after he sued Mr Modi for damages. But he appeared today at London's Southwark Crown Court to face allegations that he lied during the libel case.

He is also said to have perverted the course of justice by inducing fellow cricketer Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype call. Cairns, from Auckland, denies both accusations.

Appearing alongside him was barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, 49, of Burton Road, Manchester, who denies one count of perverting the course of justice.

As a panel of 16 jurors was selected for the trial, which is expected to last six-and-a-half weeks, they were told it will hear from about 50 witnesses.

Among them will be around 15 former and current cricket stars, including Ponting, McCullum and Vettori, along with former Warwickshire bowler Shane Bond, ex-Middlesex player Kyle Mills and former Test match umpire Steve Davis, a member of the elite panel of International Cricket Council (ICC) umpires.

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the former Home Office Chief Inspector of Constabulary for the UK and now head of the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit, is also expected to give evidence. Some are expected to appear in person, others by video link.

The first charge against Cairns, of perjury, states: "Chris Lance Cairns on a day between the 1st day of October 2010 and the 31st day 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, wilfully made a statement material in that proceeding which you knew to be false, namely 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."

Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League, the precursor to the IPL, in 2007 and 2008. 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.

The jury will be sworn in at 2pm on Wednesday, when the prosecution will open its case.