Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns set to face career-defining perjury court case in London

Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns leaves Southwark Crown Court in London.
NEIL HALL/REUTERS

Former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns leaves Southwark Crown Court in London.

For Chris Cairns, this could be the month that defines his cricket career, not the golden years in which he was the world's best allrounder.

A New Zealand cricketing great whose father Lance was a cult figure in his own right, Cairns will on Monday night (NZT) appear in court in London charged with perjury.

Cairns, 45, denies the criminal charge, which is so serious it could see him jailed if convicted.

Prosecution came out of statements Cairns made in his successful 2012 defamation case against former Indian Premier League boss Lalit Modi.

It is alleged Cairns misled the court in British libel proceedings against the Indian businessman in statements made under oath he "knew to be false or did not believe to be true".

Under question is his statement that he "never, ever cheated at cricket" and nor would he "contemplate doing such a thing".

For the trial set down for four weeks, Southwark Crown Court may well host more international cricketers than the nearby Lord's Cricket Ground, with the cricket world absorbed in proceedings.

The stakes are high for Cairns. If the allegations are proven, the British legal system takes a dim view of perjury - lying under oath - even more so when it is done for financial gain.

Also at stake for Cairns is his considerable cricketing reputation, with his battle to protect it in essence leading to the circumstances he now finds himself in.

Going into the trial Cairns remains a cricketing great, which heightens world interest in its outcome; after retiring from the international game he played professionally in England and the cricketing hot-bed India.

Cricket officials will be nervous about what will be revealed by the evidence presented. Potentially the game could be further tarnished, irrespective of whether the charges against Cairns can be proved.

Black Caps captain Brendon McCullum and New Zealand Cricket boss David White are among those down to provide evidence at the jury trial.

White is expected to confirm details around the timing of events, rather than give insights into whether games were fixed.

Several New Zealanders who played in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) are understood to have made statements to the Metropolitan Police.

Black Caps bowling coach Shane Bond, players' union representative Heath Mills, bowler Andre Adams, batsman Hamish Marshall and disgraced former Black Cap Lou Vincent are said to be on the witness list according to sources close to the game. The list has not been made public.

Vincent pleaded guilty last year to corruption breaches, and copped a life ban from cricket.

In 2010, Modi made claims about Cairns on social media outlet Twitter about his actions while playing in the ICL in 2008.

When Cairns took him to court in 2012, Modi could not prove what he tweeted was true, and the Kiwi was awarded £90,000 in damages (NZ$180,000), for hurt feelings, injury to reputation and the need for vindication.

Cairns also won about $775,000 in court costs.

Justice Bean said Modi had "singularly failed" to prove Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing - where specific events that can be bet upon take place to order in a game - or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was.

This year Cairns had been cleaning bus shelters around Auckland for $17 as he prepared to clear his name.

Even if found not guilty his legal problems may not be over, with lawyers acting for Modi indicating they would then mount a civil claim against Cairns, for which the burden of proof is lower than a criminal charge.

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