Chris Cairns perjury trial November 30, 2015

Cairns found not guilty after nine-week trial

Chris Cairns admits that his reputation in cricket has been "scorched" despite being found not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice at the end of a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court in London.

The verdict, which was delivered at 10.40am on Monday morning, was reached after 10 hours and 17 minutes of deliberation and greeted with a wave of relief from Cairns, who has effectively been cleared of any involvement in match-fixing.

He admitted afterwards that he had not initially heard the verdict as relayed to the court by the foreman of the jury, but quickly saw the jubilation on the face of his co-defendant Andrew Fitch-Holland, who was also acquitted of perverting the course of justice.

The first count, that of perjury, would have carried a maximum of seven years' imprisonment and related to his successful 2012 libel action against Lalit Modi, the founder of the IPL, at the High Court in London. That action arose as a result of a tweet sent by Modi in 2010 accusing Cairns of match-fixing in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL).

In the course of the libel trial, Cairns stated that he had "never" cheated at cricket, and nor would he contemplate doing so, a statement that attracted the interests of the Crown Prosecution Service in the wake of leaked testimony given by his former team-mates, Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum, to the ICC's anti-corruption and security unit (ACSU).

The nine witnesses called to give evidence by the prosecution included a host of cricket's most recognisable names - including McCullum, Ricky Ponting and Daniel Vettori. However, Mr Justice Sweeney, the presiding judge, stated that the evidence of two of the three "key" witnesses - Vincent, his ex-wife Eleanor Riley and McCullum - needed to be accepted as true for the perjury charge to be upheld.

Of those, the judge had warned the jury to treat Vincent's evidence with care, given his self-confessed reputation as a match-fixer. Although they were unable to reach a unanimous verdict, they required only half an hour this morning to reach their majority decision.

Chris Cairns was found not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice © AFP

Speaking outside court, Cairns said: "My thanks and my family's thanks go to the jury for reaching the verdict they did. My legal team have been superb, I can't thank them enough.

"It's been hell for the last five or so years and in particular the last couple of years and now having won the legal case in the Royal Courts and now here … I've been through the mill and come out the other side. Just a very happy man.

"Reputationally I'm completely scorched … burnt, completely. But it hasn't stopped me and it won't stop me. For my dad [former New Zealand cricketer Lance], back in New Zealand, he's a cricket man through and through - I don't know what cricket holds for me, I'm just happy for my father and my mother that they can hold their heads high in New Zealand."

Cairns, who choked up when speaking of his wife and children back in New Zealand, also ruled out a return to the world of cricket. "I think it would be a pretty hard environment to go back into, there's been a lot of damage done and that's unfortunate and sad," he said.

Asked what he would say to McCullum he just replied: "Why?"

Barrister Fitch-Holland had been accused of trying to persuade Vincent, who was last year given a life ban from cricket, to provide a false witness statement in support of Cairns for the 2012 libel case.

Fitch-Holland said: "I am enormously pleased that the personal and professional nightmare that began with a dawn raid on my home some 18 months ago has finally ended. I said when this matter was first charged that I had complete faith in the justice system of which I have always been proud to be a part of and which I continue to be proud to be a part of."

Despite the verdict, Cairns tempered his jubilation following a case in which he said there were "no winners". He is already aware that Modi is contemplating launching a civil claim in the wake of the new evidence that has come to light in the past nine weeks, and admitted afterwards: "I'll think about Mr Modi maybe next week. I'll deal with this one at the moment and get through today."

Modi, who was forced to pay £90,000 in damages and £1.4m in legal costs following his 2012 libel defeat, issued a statement shortly after the verdict was announced.

"I am aware of the verdict at Southwark Crown Court," he said on Twitter. "As you know I am limited in what I can say as I am restricted by the injunction put in place following the 2012 libel trial. I will consider how this affects my own civil claim against Mr Cairns in due course."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. He tweets @miller_cricket

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