Cairns v Modi March 16, 2012

Cairns a 'scapegoat' court hears

Chris Cairns, the former New Zealand allrounder, was a convenient "scapegoat" for corrupt activity in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) and the claims against him betrayed a "serial inconsistency of the fundamental kind", the High Court has heard on the final day of Cairns' libel action against Lalit Modi.

"Mr Cairns' future and his past achievements are on the line," Andrew Caldecott QC said. "The allegations against him are wholly untrue and the evidence against him lacking."

Cairns is suing Modi, the former IPL commissioner, over a 2010 tweet that alleged his involvement in match-fixing - claims that Cairns has vigorously contested in court.

Summing up for Cairns, Caldecott said that the case made against his client was "back to front", consisting of contradictory statements, poorly recorded events and a flawed investigation. The evidence, Caldecott said, "all points to Mr Cairns being made a scapegoat of convenience."

He suggested the case put forward by the defence that Cairns had lied about his involvement in corruption was "miles away" from being proven and described some of the evidence as "demonstrably false". Modi's defence have previously claimed that the "thrust" of the allegations against Cairns was consistent.

Caldecott also questioned the "wholly implausible" suggestion that an offer was made that Cairns be confronted by the players who had accused him of fixing at the hotel meeting that led to his dismissal from the ICL. He criticised the decision of Howard Beer, the ICL's anti-corruption officer, to tell Cairns' successor as Chandigarh Lions captain, Andrew Hall, that the investigation had been sound and that Cairns was involved, despite Beer's own concerns.

The insinuation that payments made to Cairns by a diamond trader were anything other than a business deal between friends, "doesn't amount to a row of beans," Caldecott added.

After the closing arguments were made, judge David Bean asked for submissions from both sides on potential damages, should he find in favour of Cairns. Before retiring to begin his deliberations, Bean said that he would try to deliver a written verdict by the end of the month.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo