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Former NZ cricketer Cairns in court on perjury charge

LONDON: New Zealand cricket great Chris Cairns appeared in a London court on Thursday charged with perjury relating to a libel action he brought in England in 2012.

Cairns won £90,000 ($146,000, 113,000 euros) after he sued former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi over a 2010 tweet accusing the all-rounder of match-fixing during his time in the now defunct Indian Cricket League.

However, Cairns was charged with perjury and appeared before a judge at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Thursday.

Cairns, who lives in Auckland, appeared alongside lawyer Andrew Fitch-Holland, who faces one count of perverting the course of justice.

Fitch-Holland, 49, was lead adviser to Cairns in the action against Modi.

The pair spoke only to give their names.

Judge Alistair McCreath gave both Cairns and Fitch-Holland unconditional bail to appear for a plea and case management hearing at the same court on January 16 next year. Both men have previously indicated they will contest the allegations.

The trial, which could last for up to a month, is expected to begin in early October next year, traditionally a time when there are few major fixtures in cricket’s otherwise crowded calendar.

Witnesses could include some of the world’s leading cricket figures.

Previously, after learning he would be charged, the 44-year-old Cairns said in a statement he had “nothing to hide” and he would do “whatever it takes” to prove his innocence and “clear my name once and for all”.

In 2007 and 2008, Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in the ICL, which has since been superceded by the Indian board-backed IPL.

Modi’s allegation related to the second and third editions of the competition in 2008.

Cairns has been charged with making a false statement, namely that he had never cheated at cricket nor would he contemplate doing such a thing.

Fitch-Holland is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by asking former New Zealand player Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement in the libel action.

Cairns retired from international cricket in 2004 after becoming one of only 12 players in Test history to complete the ‘double’ of 200 wickets and 3,000 runs. – AFP

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