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Alan Gardner at the Royal Courts of Justice
March 8, 2012
Investigations into allegations of match-fixing in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) have been described as "shambolic" by Howard Beer, the league's former anti-corruption officer. Beer, however, concluded his appearance as a witness during Chris Cairns' libel action against Lalit Modi by saying that the "overall context" of the evidence he had gathered led him to believe that Cairns was involved in match-fixing.
Beer, who was giving evidence on the fourth day of trial at the High Court in London, also recalled telling Hamish Marshall, the former New Zealand batsman who also played in the ICL, that "it was no secret Cairns had been sent home due to allegations of match-fixing". Cairns denies this, with the official reason for his suspension and subsequent dismissal given as hiding an injury.
According to Beer, the hotel meeting that resulted in Cairns having his ICL contract cancelled in October 2008 had involved a discussion about allegations of corruption between Cairns and the former England captain and TV pundit Tony Greig.
Greig, an ICL executive director, also allegedly told Cairns that "signed affidavits" had been collected from players, accusing him of involvement in fixing. Beer said that he was not shown the affidavits and he had concluded at that stage that there was insufficient evidence to accuse Cairns - though he did not say so at the meeting.
According to Beer, Greig went on to draw a comparison between Cairns and disgraced former South Africa captain, Hansie Cronje, who received a life ban from cricket in 2000. The court heard that Greig said: "Don't take this the wrong way, Cairnsy, but nobody would have thought that Hansie Cronje was involved in match-fixing."
Beer said that he did not stay until the end of the meeting but was told the next day that Cairns had been suspended. He also revealed that he had concerns at the time about the lack of "written evidence" against Cairns.
Greig told Beer the morning after the meeting at the Shangri La hotel that "what will be released is that he [Cairns] failed to declare an injury and Dinesh Mongia knew about it." Mongia also subsequently left the Chandigarh Lions.
After this episode, the ICL put Beer's inquiry on hold. Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Cairns, said: "Am I right in saying that the process had been shambolic?"
"That's a fair summary," Beer replied.
Despite his concerns, Beer admitted that he told Andrew Hall, Cairns' successor as captain of Chandigarh, that he had "no doubts" about the New Zealander's involvement in fixing. He said this was intended to ease the pressure on Hall, who was worried about being set-up by his team-mates. Hall, a former South Africa international and now Northamptonshire captain, is due to give evidence tomorrow.
Cairns is suing Modi over a 2010 tweet that alleged Cairns's involvement in corrupt activity. Cairns, who is now retired, has denied that this was the reason his contract with Chandigarh was cancelled, saying it was down to his failure to disclose an ankle injury.
Modi, the former IPL commissioner, had been due to appear before the judge, David Bean, after Beer but the counsel for the defence asked to postpone a decision on whether Modi will give evidence until Friday.
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