Cairns v Modi March 7, 2012

Rumours made Cairns 'barking' angry

Internet rumours that suggested Chris Cairns had been involved in match-fixing during his time with the Indian Cricket League (ICL) had made him "barking" angry, according to his advisor Andrew Fitch-Holland, who gave evidence on the third day of Cairns' libel action against Lalit Modi.

Cairns is suing Modi for defamation over a 2010 tweet that implicated him in corruption. He has vigorously denied claims of fixing. Cairns, the retired New Zealand international, captained Chandigarh Lions in the ICL for three seasons before having his contract cancelled, officially for failing to disclose an injury.

Following the meeting with ICL officials in 2008 that led to his dismissal, Cairns became aware of online gossip linking his departure with match-fixing. The rumours had appeared on a "plethora of fan-based websites across the world," Fitch-Holland said.

Although Cairns was concerned about this, Fitch-Holland said he advised that he "did not think it was a good idea to call out the big guns" at that time.

"It would have been a disproportionate response to low-level, unspecified tittle-tattle," he said. However, he contrasted this with the allegations made in Modi's tweet.

"There is a massive difference between that and your client saying it," Fitch-Holland said, in response to questioning from Ronald Thwaites QC, representing Modi. Fitch-Holland added that he had spoken to major media outlets in the UK during late 2008 to reiterate that Cairns had been sacked by the ICL over an ankle injury.

The court also heard from Cairns' wife, Mel. Describing the moment she asked Cairns if he had been involved in fixing, she said it was "the most horrible question I have ever had to ask". Cairns had replied "absolutely not", she said. There were tears in her eyes as she answered Thwaites' question as to whether she believed him.

"When something is said, over and over, accusing the man that you love of something … Of course I want to believe him and I do believe him," she said.

Fitch-Holland was the last witness to appear for Cairns. Later on Wednesday the court will hear evidence from Howard Beer, the former ICL anti-corruption officer, who is appearing on behalf of Modi.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo