The jury at Chris Cairns‘ perjury trial has heard how the former New Zealand allrounder reacted with exasperation and anger when confronted by police with allegations of match-fixing.
Cairns, who denies two counts of perjury and perverting the course of justice, relating to his 2012 libel action against Lalit Modi, listened to tapes of his statements to police in April and May 2014, in which he responded to allegations made by his former New Zealand team-mates Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum, as well as Eleanor Riley, Vincent’s ex-wife, all of whom have now given evidence in the trial at Southwark Crown Court.
Cairns could be heard protesting on the tapes that the allegations had cost him work and left him in financial difficulties. He was especially angered by Riley’s recollection of a night out in Greater Manchester in 2008, in which she claimed that Cairns had attempted to calm her fears about her then-husband’s involvement in match-fixing by telling her that “everyone in India” was doing it.
“Seriously? These are the accusations in regard to this?” Cairns told police in his statement. “This is why I can’t get money, this is why I can’t make a living? This is it?
“I don’t want to seem like a whack job. I’ve been wracking my brains for months, I’ve been f**ked over.”
Vincent, who has admitted to taking cannabis and medication to combat his depression following his axing from the New Zealand squad in 2007, had played under Cairns for Chandigarh Lions in the 2008 Indian Cricket League tournament.
He was “always up and down, and that was without medication”, said Cairns, who claimed to have attempted to help his team-mate out during his time in the ICL, but that he had also had other players to worry about.
Cairns and his fellow defendant, Andrew Fitch-Holland, are charged with perverting the course of justice after allegedly persuading Vincent to provide a false witness statement to support Cairns’ libel action against Modi. Cairns told police that Vincent had agreed to do it, but had indicated that he wanted payment in return.
“He was looking for remuneration for providing something he felt would be helpful to me,” Cairns said. “He never said money, and I never said money, but without a shadow of a doubt we were talking about money.”
The alleged approach, which was made in a Skype conversation in March 2011 that Vincent recorded, was played back to the court earlier in the trial.
Fitch-Holland said he was unaware Vincent had “surreptitiously” taped the call, or that the player was involved in match-fixing, but did not accept that the tape served as evidence that he had been trying to obtain a false statement on behalf of Cairns, his then-client.
At one point on the Skype call, Fitch-Holland tells Vincent: “we all know some of what is being said is clearly true”. This, he claimed, was a reference to Indian players who were involved in match-fixing in the ICL.
“Lou Vincent is up to his neck in match-fixing and he’s trying to throw Chris Cairns under the bus … and I’m collateral damage,” Fitch-Holland said. “He is a self-confessed corrupt man and a liar.”
McCullum, the current New Zealand captain, told the court last week how Cairns had called him to a meeting in a hotel room in Kolkata in 2008, ahead of the opening match of the Indian Premier League, at which he had raised the topic of spread betting over a room-service meal.
Cairns, however, denied that any specific meeting had ever taken place.
“I may have bumped in to him, there were a lot of the boys [New Zealand cricketers] in and out and around,” he said.
Pressed on whether he had told McCullum “everyone was doing it [fixing]”, Cairns responded: “Brendon McCullum?”
Asked if he’d told McCullum “not to miss out” on his chance to make money match-fixing, Cairms said “No. Brendon is misconstruing a discussion we might have been having. Baz is an inquisitive guy.”
The trial continues.
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