Andrew Fitch-Holland, Chris Cairns' co-defendant in the ongoing trial at Southwark Crown Court, has defended his interpretation of a 2011 Skype conversation with the disgraced former New Zealand cricketer, Lou Vincent, during which he is alleged to have asked Vincent to provide a false witness statement to support Cairns' successful libel action against Lalit Modi.
On the recording Vincent is heard to tell Fitch-Holland: "It's a horrible situation, because I also want to be there for a mate as well, and Cairnsy has been a mate, although you know like I have said I am not proud of what has happened at all. I think what has happened has been something that ... it's been hard for me to live with what's gone on."
Under cross-examination during his third day in the witness box, Fitch-Holland clashed with Sasha Wass, QC, the crown prosecutor, who put it to the defendant that the conversation showed Vincent was unhappy at being owed money by Cairns for match-fixing, and was unhappy at being coerced into lying for his former team-mate.
However, Fitch-Holland, who denies perverting the course of justice, claimed that Vincent was referring to his involvement with the now-defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL), an unsanctioned tournament that existed between 2007 and 2009.
"I thought he was talking about the car crash that was the ICL," Fitch-Holland told the court. "That's what I thought he was talking about. I'm not going to change my answers because it's the truth."
He claimed to have finished the call still thinking that Vincent might provide a statement to support Cairns' action. He had not asked the player to lie, he added, stating that he had no knowledge at that time that Vincent was involved in match-fixing.
"I've come up with the truth," Fitch-Holland said. "I'm saying Lou Vincent is a self-confessed liar, and a cheat, and committed crimes in this jurisdiction and I hoped I would be believed over him, as I hope now I will be believed over him."
Wass, however, accused Fitch-Holland of inventing a "convoluted" story to provide an innocent explanation for his "very guilty words".
Cairns, who denies two counts of perjury and perverting the course of justice, appeared to struggle to find cricketers willing to speak out in his defence during his libel action despite being, in Wass's estimation, the "David Beckham of the cricket world".
When Fitch-Holland, Cairns' "lead adviser" during the action, was asked why this had been the case, he responded: "They were being asked to align themselves in a high-profile action against Lalit Modi", at the time one of the most powerful men in cricket, and they did not want to be in his "cross-hairs".
The defendant had no explanation as to why Vincent had chosen to record the 22-minute Skype conversation. "I don't know the reasons why, I can't read Lou Vincent's devious little mind," he said.
In hindsight, he added, "it seemed the reason he taped my call was he was possibly expecting me to offer him money ... He wanted to have that for evidence for his own purposes."