Cairns may face British court action over case
KEVIN NORQUAY AND AIMEE GULLIVER
As well as batting off allegations of match-fixing, cricketer Chris Cairns risks finding himself on another sticky wicket in the shape of the English judicial system if the allegations are proven.
Indian businessman Lalit Modi, who lost a libel case to Cairns two years ago, has indicated "keen interest" in developments after a witness for the cricketer was arrested in England on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.
"My legal team and I will keep abreast of developments," the former Indian Premier League (IPL) commissioner warned when British lawyer Andrew Fitch-Holland was arrested by the Metropolitan Police. Fitch-Holland was subsequently released without charge.
Cairns has confirmed he has been interviewed by police as part of that investigation.
Cairns took on Modi in the High Court for accusing him in a tweet of corruption when playing for Chandigarh in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), set up as a rival to Modi's IPL.
Any revisiting of the libel case by the British legal system could present Cairns with more problems, as it did for British peer Jeffrey Archer in 2001.
Millionaire novelist Archer was jailed for four years after being found guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice in a libel case.
The jury found him guilty of lying in his 1987 libel case against the Daily Star newspaper.
New Zealand lawyer Garth Gallaway, who acts for New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, said in December when the allegations surfaced there was a risk of perjury if they were proven to be true.
"That is a criminal sanction and a very serious one. So the UK courts may well commence an action seeking to recover the damages that were paid out to him."
Otago University law lecturer Barry Allan said there were legal principles that made it possible for courts to revisit the case.
Hypothetically, the ICC match-fixing investigation would have to find significant evidence to establish the truth of the original statements Modi made, yet could not prove true in court.
"Let's say evidence comes in later that actually shows the whole article was true all along. One immediate problem is that we have this principle that a judgment of the court is final, you can't keep coming back because you have a new way to tell the story.
Courts had power to control abuse of process, he said.
A person who defrauded a court to get the judgment could not rely on it being final. Proven perjury could also lead to a judgment being reversed.
Fitch-Holland is said to be a friend of Cairns, and has been his adviser.
When Modi's match-fixing allegations surfaced, Cairns maintained Chandigarh sacked him because he failed to disclose an injury.
Fitch-Holland told the court that in a phone call moments after he was sacked, Cairns told him it was an ankle injury. That evidence was accepted in the approved judgment, and Cairns was awarded NZ$177,000 in March 2012.
Mr Justice Bean ruled Modi had "singularly failed" to provide evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was.
Last year, disgraced US cyclist Lance Armstrong settled with the Sunday Times after it sued him.
Armstrong, 42, had been paid NZ$591,000 to settle a libel case in 2004 after the newspaper alleged he had cheated, but in 2012 US officials found Armstrong had led a doping programme.
The paper then demanded the money back, plus interest and costs.
- The Dominion Post
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