New Delhi: Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns’s perjury trial starts on Monday in London with Kiwi Test captain Brendon McCullum giving evidence in the hearing.
It is alleged that Cairns, 45, misled the British courts in 2012 during libel proceedings against Indian businessman and former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi.
The trial is scheduled for four weeks in front of Mr Justice Sweeney, who last year presided over the case, in the London’s Southwark Crown Court.
A list of high-profile cricket figures are likely to give evidence, McCullum, former Black Caps Stephen Fleming, Andre Adams, Hamish Marshall, Shane Bond and NZ Cricket chief executive David White, besides disgraced Lou Vincent, who was handed a life ban after accepting that he was involved in fixing matches. But the list has not been made public.
In the previous hearing, Cairns pleaded not guilty to the charge of perjury and to perverting the course of justice by inducing Vincent. The batsman had alleged that a world-famous international dubbed ‘Player X’ lured him into corruption that included offers of cash and sex to rig matches.
And Cairns himself said that Vincent was referring to him, but questioned his former team-mate’s credibility, describing the allegations as absurd and bizarre.
Prosecution came out of statements Cairns made in his successful 2012 defamation case against Modi. The former IPL boss in 2010 had alleged on Twitter that Cairns – a captain of Chandigarh Lions in ICL – had been expelled from the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL) on charges of match-fixing.
But Modi could not prove what he tweeted, and the former Kiwi all-rounder was awarded NZ Dollar 179,000 in damages and costs.
Cairns retired from international cricket in 2004 after becoming one of only 12 players in Test history to achieve the double of 200 wickets and 3,000 runs. And post-retirement, he played professionally in England and India.
Even if found not guilty his legal problems may not be over, with lawyers acting for Modi indicating they would then mount a civil claim against Cairns, for which the burden of proof is lower than a criminal charge.
If perjury in Britain is proven, it carries a maximum sentence of seven years’ jail. Besides, Modi is likely to press fresh charges.
Last year, it was widely reported that Cairns had been driving trucks, cleaning bus shelters around Auckland for $17 an hour salary as in a bid to meet the mounting legal expenses and support his family.
The trial will attract huge media attention, specially in India, where the sport has taken a toll from the IPL match-fixing scandal.