Sports Integrity Initiative: Chris Cairns perjury trial

Match-Fixing, Sports Law

Regular updates of the Chris Cairns perjury trial, October – November 2015

Chris Cairns was found not guilty of all charges

Cairns update: Perjury trial to enter ninth week after jury fails to reach a verdict

Monday 23rd – Friday 27th November

While Brendon McCullum lead the New Zealand cricket team out onto the pitch in an historic day/night Test in Adelaide, thousands of miles away one of his predecessors, Chris Cairns, saw his perjury trial continue on into the ninth week. The former New Zealand captain heard on Friday that he would have to sweat it out over the weekend before hearing from the jury, who had failed to reach a verdict on his guilt.


Trial adjourned for the weekend – Friday 27th November

After hours of behind-closed-doors debate, the jury were unable to reach a verdict and were sent home by Justice Sweeney to reconvene on Monday. They had retired on Tuesday, deliberated for a few hours, had a couple of days off due to prior commitments of the jurors (who have had to remain at the trial for far longer than originally anticipated), returned to discuss things on Friday and still failed to come to a conclusion.

On Friday lunchtime the jury had asked Sweeney if he would accept a majority verdict over a unanimous one. Under s17 of the Juries Act 1974 there is a provision for the taking of majority verdicts in criminal trials in a crown court if ‘it appears to the court that the jury have had such period of time for deliberation as the court thinks reasonable having regard to the nature and complexity of the case.’ In this instance majority verdict means, in a jury consisting of 12 jurors, ten of them agree on the verdict.

Despite urging the jurors to find a unanimous verdict, the judge said that, taking into account the length of the trial, he would accept a majority verdict.

However by 5pm on Friday, the jurors could still not reach a majority verdict and the case was adjourned until the following week, meaning it would enter its ninth week. The case was originally predicted to last just four weeks.


Jury retires to consider verdict – Tuesday 24th November

Following the end of judge Sweeney’s summing up, which included an entire day going through the detail of the thus far seven-week long trial, the jury retired to consider its verdict on Tuesday lunchtime. The expectation, according to the judge, was that the jury would deliberate the following day.

Earlier in the day Sweeney had told the jury that Eleanor Riley, Lou Vincent’s ex-wife, was the most important witness of the three key witnesses, and also alerted the jury to two further pieces of evidence. These were from former South African cricketer Andrew Hall who had testified that Cairns had told him he had been suspended from cricket for alleged match-fixing, and also the evidence showing that Cairns had appeared on an International Cricket Council (ICC) list of players alleged to have been involved in match-fixing.


Lou Vincent a ‘dangerous’ witness – Monday 23rd November

The judge presiding over the trial, Mr Justice Sweeney, delivered his summing up of proceedings over the Friday and Monday. Having heard the final statements from both the prosecution and defence, it was Sweeney’s turn to give his thoughts before the jury were sent away to consider their verdict.

On the Friday, the judge warned the jury that, when considering the testimony of key witness Lou Vincent, ‘In his case you should be particularly cautious that he might have his own interest to serve.’ Vincent has already separately admitted to match-fixing, as well as corruption, fraud, money laundering and bribery. While the prosecution insisted that he was a key witness the jury could trust, the defence had attempted to frame him as a liar, who ‘plainly has an interest of his own to serve’.

Justice Sweeny told the jury that to find Cairns guilty of perjury they must be sure of the evidence of at least two of the three witnesses accusing Cairns of perjury, and they must be sure that these statements were independent of each other. Failing that, the jury could then consider whether Cairns and his legal adviser Andrew Fitch-Holland were guilty of perverting the course of justice, the second count of the trial.


Cairns update: The Fitch-Holland sideshow, prosecution summing up, defence response

Wednesday 11th – Thursday 19th November

It’s been a busy few weeks in the world of sports integrity, with the IAAF and WADA investigations, as well as the ongoing FIFA revelations, dominating the headlines. However the Chris Cairns perjury trial, now into its seventh week, has been ongoing amid the backdrop of the wider sporting scandals. Here’s an update of what’s been happening over the last 10 days:


The Fitch-Holland sideshow – Thursday 19th November

Following the summing of Cairns’ case by the prosecution and the subsequent response from his defence, the latest instalment in this seven-week perjury trial has been the closing speech of Jonathan Laidlaw QC, the barrister defending Andrew Fitch-Holland for perverting the course of justice.

While, according to The New Zealand Herald, crown prosecutor Sasha Wass QC had earlier accused Fitch-Holland of ‘giving an innocent meaning to very guilty words’, Laidlaw reportedly responded that this was ‘deeply unfair’, and challenged the prosecution to clear a number hurdles in order to find Fitch-Holland guilty.

Laidlaw told the jury that, firstly, they must be sure that Fitch-Holland knew that Chris Cairns and Lou Vincent were involved in match-fixing, which Laidlaw says he did not. Further, they must be sure that Fitch-Holland had definitely asked Vincent to give a false statement in a Skype call with him, which Vincent secretly recorded.

Fitch-Holland’s defence said that Vincent had clearly ‘steered’ this conversation to try and trap Fitch-Holland, who all the while was both unaware of the match-fixing, or that the conversation was being recorded. Laidlaw said that, crucially, nowhere in the transcript of the Skype call, was there a request to Vincent to sign a false statement.

Laidlaw put it to the jury that, whether Cairns was guilty or not-guilty, the important factor in Fitch-Holland’s case was that he does not believe Cairns is a match-fixer and all his actions followed accordingly. He said that the prosecution were instead relying on passages in the recorded Skype conversation which were ‘open to interpretation’ and ‘misunderstanding’.


Defence responds, denouncing key witnesses – Tuesday 17th November

In response to the prosecution’s case, Orlando Pownall QC put it to the jury that Lou Vincent was a proven, ‘devious and sly’ liar, who had implicated Cairns in order to ‘drum up publicity’ for his impending book purporting to spill the beans on Cairns and his match-fixing.

The defence claimed that there was evidence enough to show that Vincent had had assurances from the police that he would not be investigated following this trial, regardless of what he said, a long as no new information ‘came to light’.

The defence also pointed to what it described as ‘confirmation bias’, in which it warned the jury of the ‘power of words’ being used to misrepresent what actually happened. The perjury trial was founded on ‘rumour upon rumour’ claimed the defence, who warned of making baseless ‘assumptions’ founded on words alone. While the defence framed Vincent as a pathaological liar, it also sought to show the jury how Cairns had not been shown to be one.

Finally, Pownall told the jury to ‘follow the money’ involved in the match-fixing allegations, which, instead of leading to Cairns, would allegedly lead instead to Indian match-fixers.


Prosecution sum up their case, making comparisons to Lance Armstrong – Friday 13th November

Following a time consuming legal argument which, once again, delayed the lengthy trial, Sasha Wass QC summed up the prosecution’s case, describing Cairns as the ‘Lance Armstrong of cricket’.

Wass put it to the jury that three witnesses provided direct evidence that Cairns had match-fixed, while six more had provided indirect evidence. Cairns, she argued, was unable to present a ‘single, credible reason’ why any of the witnesses would falsify their testimonry and incriminate an innocent man, as the defence was arguing.

The prosecution told the court that Lou Vincent’s early admissions of match-fixing to close friends, over five years before he publicly confessed, clearly showed that his outing of Cairns as a match-fixer was sincere. This, alongside the witness statements, Wass said, meant that the evidence Cairns was involved in match-fixing was ‘overwhelming’. ‘He has made a mockery of the game of cricket, the fans, the game,’ Wass reportedly said.


Fitch-Holland claims he had been ‘profoundly misinterpreted’ – Wednesday 11th November

The barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, Chris Cairns’ former legal adviser and now co-defendant, was the last witness to be called in what was meant to be a four-week perjury trial (it’s now into its seventh week). Speaking to the Southwark Crown Court on Friday 6th November, Fitch-Holland denied ever asking Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement in Cairns’ libel case against Lalit Modi. He further asserted that Cairns never indulged in match-fixing; the only thing Chris Cairns is guilty of is not ‘keeping his trousers zipped up’, the barrister told the court. Fitch-Holland further told the court that he did not remember ever telling a group of friends ‘Oh, he’s guilty, Cairnsy’s guilty’, telling the court that he was ‘plastered’ with alcohol and that, if he did say those words, it was in referring to Cairns’ extra-marital affairs, not match-fixing.

During his cross-examination early last week, Fitch-Holland also defended his description of a Skype call with Lou Vincent, which the latter secretly recorded, and which was described by Sasha Wass QC, the crown prosecutor, as a ‘convoluted explanation’. Ms Wass said that, during the Skype call, Vincent appeared to think Fitch-Holland was asking him to lie by signing a document saying that Cairns hadn’t done anything wrong (i.e. match-fixed), which was then to be used as evidence in support of Cairns in his libel case against Modi. Fitch-Holland said that he was ‘not asking Lou to lie’, and maintained that he had been ‘profoundly misinterpreted’.


Cairns’ wife denies that match-fixing discussion occurred

Friday 6th November

Chris Cairns’ wife has reportedly denied accusations that she had lied to protect her husband amid match-fixing allegations. Earlier in the trial, Lou Vincent and his ex-wife Ellie Riley both told the court that match-fixing had been discussed on a night out with Mel and Chris Cairns. Appearing over video-link to give evidence in defence of her husband, Mel Cairns reportedly told the court match-fixing had ‘absolutely not’ been discussed, claiming that she would not have had a relationship with Cairns if it had been. According to The Guardian Mel Cairns said that although she was ‘devoted to her husband’, her support did ‘not extend to lying for him’.


Cairns takes the stand, denies match-fixing

Thursday 5th November

Chris Cairns this week took the stand for the first time in his perjury trial taking place at Southwark Crown Court in London. On Tuesday, Cairns maintained that he was not, at any stage in his career, involved in match-fixing. Cairns refuted all the claims put forward earlier in the trial by fellow New Zealand cricketers Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum that he was behind a match-fixing ring which started during the Indian Cricket League (ICL) tournament in 2008.

Under cross-examination from Sasha Wass QC, the crown prosecutor, it was reportedly put to Cairns that he must be ‘a most unfortunate individual’ to have had so many testify that he was a match-fixer. According to ESPN Cricinfo, Cairns received a warning from the presiding judge for failing to ‘give straight answers’ to Wass’ line of questioning. Cairns was asked about his relationship with a number of those who had already testified, and reportedly described Ponting as ‘not on the Christmas card list’, Vincent as ‘not in the friend category’ and that Brendon McCullum, in giving his statement to court was ‘doing what is best for Brendon’.


Cairns’ defence questions why Vincent wasn’t charged

Friday 30th October

Chris Cairns’ lawyer, Orlando Pownall QC, reportedly asked Detective Chief Superintendent Michael Duthie why self-confessed match-fixer Lou Vincent had not been prosecuted by the Metropolitan Police Service. Vincent was banned from cricket for life by the ECB in 2014 and has admitted a number of criminal offences in the UK while giving evidence in the Cairns perjury trial. Despite warnings from the Crown Prosecution Service that to not prosecute Vincent would undermine the case against Cairns, Vincent, a key witness for the prosecution, has faced no legal action. Mr Duthie reportedly said that the decision not to charge Vincent was ‘operational’.


Cairns told police he was ‘f**ked over’ by allegations

Thursday 29th October

Excerpts of a recorded interview between Cairns and the Metropolitan Police, and a separate recording of police interview with Cairns’ co-defendant Andrew Fitch-Holland, were played out to the court yesterday. In Cairns’ interview, the former New Zealand captain is reported to have been audibly angry at the match-fixing accusations made by former team-mate Lou Vincent and his wife, telling investigators that, ‘I don’t want to seem like a whack job. I’ve been wracking my brains for months, I’ve been f**ked over.’

Cairns told police that Vincent, who suffered from depression, was ‘always up and down, and that was without medication’, that he was erratic and dabbled in drugs while playing in the India Cricket League. Cairns told police that Vincent had clearly insinuated that he wanted money in return for a statement of support in Cairns’ libel case against Lalit Modi, which Cairns said he didn’t give.

According to The New Zealand Herald, Fitch-Holland also told police that a conversation that he had with Vincent, which Vincent was secretly recording, was part of a ‘vendetta by a corrupt cricketer to “throw Chris Cairns under the bus”.’ In the police interview, Fitch-Holland reportedly said that he was ‘collateral damage’.


Vincent a ‘prime candidate’ for Cairns’ match-fixing approach

Wednesday 28th October

Steve Pearson, a close friend of Lou Vincent who played club cricket with him for Auckland, reportedly told the court on Tuesday that Vincent was ‘vulnerable’ and a ‘prime candidate’ for match-fixing. According to ESPN Cricinfo, the court heard that Vincent, who has already testitfied in the perjury trial and admitted to match-fixing, suffered from depression after being dropped from the New Zealand cricket team in 2007. Describing Vincent’s state of mind, Pearson said that he was in a ‘bad space’ when he was offered a contract to go and play in the Indian Cricket League in 2008. Pearson told the court how Vincent described in detail how he had fixed matches on Cairn’s orders both in India and in the United Kingdom.


Cairns’ co-defendant allegedly boasted of cricketer’s guilt

Tuesday 27th October

After a three-day break the Chris Cairns perjury trial resumed on Monday at Southwark Crown Court in London with the testimony of former New Zealand all-rounder Chris Harris. According to reports, Harris told the court that Cairns’ former legal adviser and now co-defendant, the barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, told Harris during a charity game in 2010 that Cairns  The remark was allegedly made shortly after Cairns had successfully sued Lalit Modi for libel, in which Fitch-Holland has now been accused of providing a false witness statement in support of Cairns.

Harris also reportedly told the court that Cairns had ‘worn an ‘unusual’ expression on his face’ when his ICL team, the Chandigarh Lions, won an unlikely victory in 2008. However on cross-examination and being shown footage of Cairns smiling and embracing a team mate upon victory, Harris conceded that he may have made an error.


ACSU Chairman says McCullum statement was handled appropriately

Friday 23rd October

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, the current chairman of the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU), denied that anti-corruption officials did not punish Brendon McCullum for a lengthy delay in reporting alleged match-fixing approaches, in order to get Chris Cairns’ ‘scalp’.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Sir Ronnie agreed with the defence counsel that there was a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to breaches of the ICC’s code of ethics, but said that the ICC wanted ‘a system where players are encouraged to report any improper approaches.’ Flanagan reportedly said that the Code of Conduct had changed since 2008, when McCullum was approached by Cairns, and that a delay in reporting an approach was ‘not necessarily a breach of the rules at that time.’ He also said that the punishment for each case was different and that those that reported approaches needed to be treated with sensitivity.

John Rhodes, the Australasian head of the ACSU, earlier also testified in the trial in which he reportedly told the court that Brendon McCullum gave him a statement in February 2011 mentioning a ‘business proposition’ from Cairns three years earlier, but without explicitly mentioning match-fixing. Rhodes said the inference of an approach to fix matches was clear, and that he reported it as such. He also stressed that the Indian Cricket League (ICL), in which the fixes were alleged to have happened, was an unsanctioned tournament beyond the jurisdiction of the ICC.

Daniel Vettori, another former New Zealand captain, also gave evidence to the court via video link. He reportedly told the court that he was ‘shocked and then angry’ when Brendon McCullum told him that Cairns had approached him to fix cricket matches. According to the New Zealand Herald, Vettori said that he did not report McCullum’s conversation to the ICC at the time because ‘he did not think he was obligated to because the alleged approach was to someone else.’


New Zealand Cricket CEO denies ICC deal

Wednesday 21st October

The CEO of New Zealand Cricket, David White, denied suggestions from Chris Cairns’ defence lawyer that he colluded with the International Cricket Council (ICC) to prevent two New Zealand players from being banned for failing to report a match-fixing approach.

Earlier in the trial the current New Zealand cricket captain Brendon McCullum had told the court that Cairns approached him twice in 2008 about match-fixing, but did not report him to the ICC until 2011. McCullum also reportedly told his team-mate and captain at the time, Daniel Vettori of the approach. Under the ICC Anti-Corruption Code, Article 2.4.4, it is an offence to fail to disclose to the Anti-Corruption and Security Unit (ACSU) full details of any corrupt approaches, without unnecessary delay. According to the code, ‘the assessment of whether there had been “unnecessary delay” in each case will depend on its own circumstances’ but that it’s always unacceptable to wait until after the match in question.

According to the New Zealand Herald, White was questioned over whether he brokered a deal with the ICC that would ensure McCullum and Vettori would not be banned for their failure to report the approach in exchange for the ‘scalp’ of Cairns. White denied the accusation.

Former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting also gave evidence via video link, in which he told the court that he was present when McCullum received ‘a business proposition’ over the phone from Cairns. Ponting reportedly told the court that on hearing this from McCullum, he ‘didn’t ask any more questions’, saying that as soon as he heard it was about business, he wasn’t interested anymore.


Lou Vincent’s wife corroborates Cairns threats

Tuesday 20th October

Eleanor Riley, the ex-wife of the former New Zealand batsman and convicted match-fixer Lou Vincent, told the court that Chris Cairns threatened Vincent into match-fixing. According to reports, she said that Cairns told other players, including Vincent, that they would “never play cricket” again unless they helped him fix matches.

Riley recalled Vincent crying down the phone after having agreed to fix a match, that she believed the amount involved was US$250,000 and that she had been told that both Indian and New Zealand players were involved. Riley said that she confronted Cairns during a night out in 2008, and that he told her everyone was fixing matches in India and that neither he nor Vincent would get caught.


Andre Adams latest to testify in Cairns trial

Monday 19th October

Former New Zealand bowler Andre Adams was the latest in a long line of international cricketers to testify in the perjury trial of former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns. Appearing via video link, Adams reportedly told the court of a conversation between Cairns and a number of cricketers whom he was allegedly trying to recruit into his match-fixing ring. He assured them that it didn’t matter if match-fixing occurred in Indian Cricket League (ICL), because, as a non-sanctioned event, they were powerless to stop it.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting as well as Elly Riley, the former wife of the convicted match-fixer Lou Vincent’s, is among the witnesses due to be called this week as the trial continues.


McCullum failed to report match-fixing approach

Friday 16th October

Current New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has given evidence in a London court in the ongoing perjury trial of former captain Chris Cairns. McCullum alleges that Cairns approached him with a ‘business proposition’ that involved match-fixing, but admitted that he did not report the approach until a full three years later as he ‘didn’t want it to be true.’


Fleming confronted ‘dirty’ Vincent

Thursday 15th October

Former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent has given testimony for a third day in the perjury trial in London of his former captain Chris Cairns. The court heard that another New Zealand cricket captain, Stephen Fleming, had confronted Vincent in 2012 and accused both he and Cairns of being “dirty”. Vincent also told the court that he was never going to report Cairns of match-fixing as he was ‘my captain, my coach, my mentor’, and that another team-mate, Daryl Tuffey, had told him that he was going to ‘to f**king kill’ Cairns over huge match-fixing payments that were never made.


Lou Vincent reveals Cairns threats

Tuesday 13th October

Former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent has admitted he was involved in match-fixing in the Indian Cricket League (ICL). While giving evidence in the Chris Cairns perjury trial at Southwark Crown Court, Vincent claimed he was acting under ‘direct orders’ from his captain, Cairns. Vincent said he turned down an offer of cash and a prostitute, to which the former New Zealand captain responded, ‘You work for me now.’ The jury were also told that Vincent was once threatened with a cricket bat by Cairns after scoring too many runs in a fixed ICL game.


Cairns charged with perjury & perverting the course of justice

Tuesday 6th October

Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns appeared in court in London today, charged with perjury and perverting the course of justice. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) alleges that Cairns made a false statement claiming that he would never cheat at cricket during his libel claim against Lalit Modi, the founder of the Indian Premier League (IPL), who had accused Cairns of match-fixing on Twitter. The CPS also claims that Cairns approached Lou Vincent, himself banned for match-fixing last year, to make a false witness statement.

‘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 he knew to be false, namely that he had never, ever cheated at cricket and nor would he ever contemplate such a thing’, reads Count 1 of the CPS charge sheet, which alleges that Cairns has committed perjury, contrary to section 1(1) of the Perjury Act 1911.

‘Andrew Fitch-Holland and Chris Lance Cairns between the 3rd day of March 2011 and the 24th day of March 2011, with intent to pervert the course of public justice, did acts which had the tendency to pervert the course of public justice namely:
• Arranged to approach Lou Vincent with a view to his providing a false witness statement in support of Chris Lance Cairns’ libel action against Lalit Modi in the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice in England;
• Induced Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype conversation with an intended consequence that Chris Lance Cairns’ libel action would be successful’ reads Count 2, which alleges intent to pervert the course of justice.

• This article was originally published in the Sports Integrity Initiative internet journal on 27 November 2015. To access the original, please click here.


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