Former Cricketer Cairns Looks to Clear Name by Suing Modi over Match-Fixing Comments

By Community | March 6, 2012

Chris Cairns has asked the High Court for substantial libel damages over an accusation of match-fixing which had turned his achievements to ‘dust’. 

Cairns, 41, a former New Zealand captain, who notched up the rare double of 200 wickets and 3,000 runs in his 62 Tests, is suing Lalit Modi, ex-chairman of Twenty20 franchise the Indian Premier League (IPL) over an “unequivocal allegation” on Twitter, reports ESPNstar. 

His counsel, Andrew Caldecott QC, told Justice Bean, who is hearing the case in London without a jury, that Modi’s January 2010 tweet was picked up by cricket website Cricinfo. 

When Cairns complained, Cricinfo withdrew their report, paid damages and apologised – but Modi declined to apologise and pleaded justification, maintaining that the charge was true. 

Cairns’ case was that the allegation was “wholly untrue” and a very grave libel which would – if uncorrected – destroy all he had achieved over a distinguished 20-year career. 

In evidence, he said: “The defendant’s allegations have also had a profound effect on my personal and private life. It put a strain on my marriage. It hurts that my wife may think that I am not the man she thought I was. 

“It hurts me too that friends, many of whom are former cricketing foes, will question my integrity as a man and a sportsman and that all I achieved in the great game of cricket is dust.” 

Caldecott said that all-rounder Cairns, who lived in England as a child when his father Lance played here, and had himself played seven seasons for Nottinghamshire, had considerable affection for the UK and minded about his reputation here. 

At the time of the tweet, Modi was one of the most powerful men in the cricket world and any statement of his was likely to be treated as soundly-based. 

Counsel said that, in 2007 and 2008, Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which flourished briefly before the ascendancy of the IPL. 

The allegation made by Modi related to the second and third of these competitions, between March and April 2008 and October and November that year. 

Caldecott said that, in October 2008, Cairns was called to an ICL directors meeting in a hotel room where, according to the cricketer, his denial of rumours of his alleged involvement in match-fixing appeared to be accepted. 

“No specific charges of match-fixing were ever put to Cairns. No names of any accusers were mentioned. 

“He was never informed after his departure that statements had been taken – mainly later – from Indian players alleging corrupt activity by various players including him.” 

Counsel said that Cairns was then effectively suspended for not declaring an ankle injury which had been exacerbated by a 1,000-kilometre charity walk completed in memory of his late sister. 

He returned to New Zealand for an operation, was never contacted with any complaint and, in 2009, was entered for the IPL auction. 

Caldecott said that the initial publication of Modi’s tweet in the jurisdiction was up to 95 people while the initial publication of the Cricinfo article was between 450 and 1,500. 

“Of course these receivers are bound to be cricket fans – it’s the classic kind of allegation which runs and runs – one fan to another to another – match-fixing is a subject which is always topical. 

“Be in no doubt that to everyone who hears it – Mr Cairns’s entire career is tainted.” 

He told the judge: “Preserving the integrity of any sport depends as much on vindicating the falsely accused as it does on convicting the guilty.”

by Ismail Uddin