Chris Cairns appears in London court
Chris Cairns appears in a London court on charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice.
London: New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns lied on oath about his involvement in the corrupt world of gambling, prostitutes and match fixing in India’s private Twenty 20 league, a London court has been told.
He believed he deserved a “piece of the pie” and reduced some games to almost farcical levels in order to win crooked money through “spread betting”, a Southwark Crown Court jury was told.
“The prosecution can demonstrate that Mr Cairns had been involved in cheating at cricket, or match fixing, for some time – and when he denied it, he was lying to the court on oath,” prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told the jury.
Chris Cairns leaves Southwark Crown Court in London on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images
“[He] was repeatedly involved in match fixing from the time that he joined the Indian Cricket League.”
Cairns has pleaded not guilty to charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice. He sat in court on Wednesday bolt upright, in a dark blue suit, white shirt and red tie, almost expressionless as the case against him was outlined.
In an earlier libel case, Cairns – on oath in court and in sworn statements – denied being involved in match fixing. In one statement he said, “I have never, ever cheated at cricket. Nor would I ever contemplate such a thing … what is alleged against me is utter rubbish and deeply hurtful.”
Chris Cairns denies charges of perjury and perverting the course of justice. Photo: Getty Images
He won the libel case, against Lalit Modi, founder of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament, and was awarded £90,000 ($191,000) damages.
Ms Wass said after winning the case Cairns must have felt “like he had struck a six”.
“But Mr Cairns has been caught out – in a cricketing expression he has been caught at the boundary.”
Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting may give evidence in Chris Cairns’ court case. Photo: Getty Images
Ms Wass said the jury of four men and eight women would hear evidence that:
- Cairns targeted players on his Chandigarh Lions team to help him fix matches, instructing them when to play badly and when to get out.
- He bullied younger players in the team to go along with the plan, saying they would “never play cricket again” if they didn’t.
- He offered then ICL player, now New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum up to $180,000 (in an unspecified currency but believed to be US dollars) a game to work for Cairns (McCullum declined).
- A second player, former New Zealand player Lou Vincent, agreed to deliberately underperform in several games on Cairns’ instruction in exchange for $50,000 a match. He had earlier been offered money and a prostitute by an unidentified Indian man, an incident Cairns said would be “good cover” for their own match fixing.
- Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting remembered being with McCullum during a phone conversation in which Cairns made “a business proposal” to McCullum, at the time Cairns was allegedly trying to recruit McCullum into match fixing.
- A lawyer working on behalf of Cairns tried to persuade Vincent to lie for Cairns in the libel case.
Lou Vincent was depressed and started drinking and abusing cannabis after being dropped by New Zealand in 2007, Ms Wass said.
After he was signed to the Chandigarh Lions, Cairns’ team, he was approached by an Indian man about a “sponsorship deal” – a proposal of match fixing. He was offered money and a prostitute, both of which he declined.
Vincent reported the approach to the ICL, and then told Cairns. He said Cairns told him reporting the approach “would provide ‘good cover’ and that Mr Vincent could now [do] match fixing for him”.
“Mr Cairns told Mr Vincent that the ICL was corrupt anyway and they both deserved to get a piece of the pie,” Ms Wass said. “He said that he would pay Mr Vincent US$50,000 for each match that he fixed.”
Vincent’s mental health issues would provide a pretext for unreliable performance on the pitch, Cairns allegedly said.
Vincent said four players on the team were involved in fixing: himself, Cairns, Daryl Tuffey and Dinesh Mongia. He “got the impression during a trip to Dubai that Mr Cairns was working for someone in Dubai”.
He was told to play badly in four games: to get 10-15 runs in 20 balls then get out. In one game he played well by mistake and Cairns told him after the game “that he had cost him millions. At one stage he threatened to hit Mr Vincent with a bat”.
Vincent told his wife that Cairns told the young players in the team that if they didn’t do what they were asked to do, they would never play cricket again.
Vincent’s wife, Eleanor, would also give evidence of a dinner at a restaurant in Cheshire where England cricketer Freddie Flintoff was present though he “didn’t contribute to the conversation very much because he spent the time just drinking”. The others discussed match fixing, and Cairns assured her that “everyone was doing it”, she said.
McCullum considered Cairns as “one of his idols”, Ms Wass said, someone he aspired to emulate. But when he began playing in the ICL in 2008, Cairns took him aside in a hotel in Kolkata and explained “spread betting” to him, making it “clear that Mr Cairns wanted Mr McCullum to work for him”.
“Mr Cairns went on to explain how he would be able to get Mr McCullum between $70,000 to $180,000 per game,” Ms Wass said, and also explained how to get the money back to New Zealand without arousing suspicion, by buying property in Dubai then selling it later.
Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting remembered a conversation he had with McCullum in a hotel room in 2008 when they were both playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders,” Ms Wass said.
“Mr McCullum received a [phone] call which didn’t last very long. When the call was concluded Mr McCullum said that it was Chris Cairns and that he was making a business proposal … This evidence is not conclusive but it dovetails with Mr McCullum’s account.”
Cairns once openly boasted that match fixing “did not matter” in the Indian Cricket League and that no-one could ever prove it, Ms Wass said.
It was “hard but not impossible” to prove match fixing, and the only way it could be exposed was if one of the participants in the cheating exposed it, she said. “Unusually in this case we have concrete evidence.”
Several umpires would give evidence that they suspect match fixing by players including Cairns, Ms Wass said.
Another New Zealand player, Chris Harris, remembered two “peculiar” games, including one in April 2008 when Cairns hit a simple catch which was then dropped, and followed it up by going for “a silly run” in which he was run out, Ms Wass said.
It looked like both teams were trying to lose the game.
The Chandigarh wicketkeeper then came on and unexpectedly scored with enthusiasm, winning the game for Cairns’ team. Cairns was “far from pleased”, Ms Wass said.
New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond recalled another game in October 2008 when Cairns was noticeably disappointed when his team won.
The trial before Justice Sweeney continues on Monday.