Cairns vindicated over 'life consuming' case

CHRIS WILSON
Last updated 13:20 05/04/2012
Chris Cairns
Fairfax Media
FAMILY TIME: Chris Cairns shares a moment with daughter Isabel, who has just received a cochlear implant and can hear for the first time.
Chris Cairns
Fairfax Media
THAT'S LIVING: Cairns with Isabel.
Chris Cairns
John Selkirk/Fairfax Media Zoom
Chris Cairns hits a flourishing four prompting close in fielder Jacques Rudolph to take evasive action during the test against South Africa in Hamilton in 2004.

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Former New Zealand international cricketer Chris Cairns says he feels "complete vindication", declaring he's ready to resume a role in the sport and a normal life in Canberra after a two-year battle to clear his reputation of match-fixing accusations.

Cairns has broken his silence about the ordeal, stating he was ''never going to back down'' against one of international cricket's most powerful figures in the world's first libel case stemming from Twitter.

Cairns was awarded costs and £90,000 (NZ$175,000) by the High Court of London last month, the result of a tweet from former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi in January 2010 that alleged Cairns had previously been involved in match-fixing.

A spokesperson for Modi indicated yesterday his client planned to appeal, while Cairns said it would ''not come as a surprise''.

But in an exclusive interview with The Canberra Times, Cairns detailed how the case had consumed his life and ostracised him from the cricketing community, his anger that Modi had avoided the witness stand in court, and how there were irregularities in the now-defunct Indian Cricket League, but he was never aware of them at the time.

Cairns and wife Malanie celebrated the first birthday of their daughter, Isabel, on Sunday. The couple have settled in Canberra because Isabel was born profoundly deaf and, after a cochlear implant, receives therapy at The Shepherd Centre in Rivett.

He admitted the libel case had been a major impost on his life, distracting him from things such as his daughter's milestones - she has recovered 96 per cent of her hearing.

Modi's original tweet was seen by just 65 people, but Cairns explained his motive for making international headlines and taking the matter to court.

Cairns said he had to fight to restore his reputation, stating match fixing were some of the ''dirtiest words in sport''.

''I took it as far as I could go to clear my name and that's what I had to do,'' Cairns said.

''It was a long hard road to get that complete vindication.

''An hour won't go past when you're not thinking about it ... it's a massive distraction and something that didn't need to be in my life but I had to deal with it.

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''It'll take a good while to get out of the system and realise it's not part of my life and I'll have more time for all things family and professionally.''

Cairns said the hardest part of the two-year legal fight was sitting in the London High Court during a two-week trial, listening to what he labels a ''character assassination'' against him.

Cairns, who was in the witness box for eight hours, reacted with an angry outburst when it was revealed his accuser, Modi, would not take the stand.

''I sort of regret that a little bit but I think it was an emotive reaction at the time,'' Cairns said.

''Lalit Modi and I are poles apart in life - financially, religiously, where we live, we are the complete opposite.

''But the one place where you are equal, regardless of whether you're a billionaire, a cricketer, male or female, is in the witness stand. Everybody's the same in there.

''We had the courage to stand up and say what we believed and Mr Modi chose not go down that route so that was the frustrating thing.''

Cairns admits he partly retreated from cricket over the past two years, but would now like to play a role with ACT Cricket and New Zealand cricket, if asked.

He said the case had highlighted that there were ''things going on in that league [ICL] that weren't right''. But he refused to go further, claiming he had been unaware of any improper activity at the time.

''I'm not going to cast aspersions without facts. I'm a man who was hung out to dry without facts''.

Although the first person to win a libel case originating from Twitter, Cairns said it wouldn't be the last.

''There's been sportspeople and politicians who have got into trouble over their impulsive use of Twitter. Lalit Modi wasn't the first and he won't be the last.''

- The Canberra Times

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