Former New Zealand captain wins mix-fixing libel case

Chris Cairns said a "dark cloud" was lifted on Monday when he won his libel trial and pounds 90,000 in damages from Lalit Modi.

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Former New Zealand captain wins mix-fixing libel case


Chris Cairns said a "dark cloud" was lifted on Monday when he won his libel trial and pounds 90,000 in damages from Lalit Modi, who the judge said had "singularly failed" to provide reliable evidence that the former Test player was involved in fixing.

Modi now faces a bill, including his own legal costs, of about pounds 1.4?million for a 24-word message on -Twitter sent in January 2010 accusing Cairns of a past record of fixing.

The judge rejected Modi's defence of justification and said he had "singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was".

In a withering assessment, Justice David Bean said Modi's defence had relied on a string of witnesses who changed their story, as well as an anti-corruption officer whose evidence was "partisan to the point of being unprofessional". The "flavour" of Modi's defence was heavily -criticised by the judge who granted an injunction against him repeating the allegations.

He said Cairns endured a "sustained and aggressive" attack on his reputation. In his closing argument for Modi, Ronald Thwaites QC, described Cairns as a liar on 24 occasions and said instructing junior players to fix was similar to "abusing orphans". The judge concluded the attack "must be taken to have been made on the instructions of Mr Modi".

It led the judge to increase damages at the end of the first libel trial involving Twitter by pounds 15,000.

Justice Bean granted Modi leave to appeal only against the amount of damages, but sources last night said that he would make an application to the Court of Appeal to overturn the verdict.

He is also fighting to have a bankruptcy order, granted in a London court last month, to be set aside. He was described in court as a man of "considerable" means.

Neither Cairns nor Modi was in court but the New Zealander issued a statement from Canberra, where he now lives.

He said: "Today's verdict lifts a dark cloud that has been over me for the past two years. I feel mixed emotions. Firstly sadness that I should ever have had to put myself, my friends and my family through this because of one man's misdirected allegations.

"But I also feel great joy because my past career has come through unscathed because I had the courage to stand up in the highest court to defend my name. Lastly I feel great relief that I am able to walk into any cricket ground in the world with my head held high."

At the start of the trial Cairns, once among the world's leading all-rounders, described how his career had been reduced to "dust" by Modi's allegation, which stemmed from his time captaining the Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League, a defunct Twenty20 competition.

He was suspended by the ICL for what was officially described as a failure to divulge a pre-existing ankle injury. Rumours on the internet at the time linked Cairns with fixing.

The lead witness for the defence was Howard Beer, a former Australian police officer who was the ICL's anti-corruption officer. Beer and a colleague interviewed 23 players and told the court the "overall context of the evidence" led him to believe Cairns was involved in fixing along with his vice-captain Dinesh Mongia, who was sacked at the same time.

The judge said Mongia's dismissal followed "evidence that he had been directly involved in match-fixing for some time". Judge Bean was scathing in his criticism of Beer. He said: "Mr Beer's brief appears to have been to look only for evidence of guilt."

Three former Chandigarh team-mates appeared via a video link from Delhi to accuse Cairns of fixing but elements of their testimony were dismissed as hearsay while the -reliability of their evidence was undermined by the fact some of their stories had changed since the initial investigation by the ICL in 2008.

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