Chris Cairns will lose, even if he wins

The jury considering Cairns’ fate will resume deliberating on Monday after failing to reach a verdict on Saturday morning, NZ time.

Chris Gallavin, former dean of law at Canterbury University, said if Cairns was convicted he was likely to face jail time and have the damages awarded to him in his 2012 libel trial against former Indian Premier League chairman Lalit Modi reversed.

“The perjury is probably the least of his worries.”

Modi has issued legal proceedings against Cairns in London to claw back $5.5m in damages and costs from the libel trial, but that action is on hold until after the criminal proceedings.

Gallavin said there was one way Cairns might avoid further court action: Modi might not have to proceed with his case because the judge in the perjury trial could order Cairns to repay the $948,000 damages and costs awarded against Modi – plus the businessman’s own substantial legal costs.

“I daresay that would destroy him financially. He’s completely in the s… if he’s convicted of this.”

And if he’s found not guilty of perjury, he faces a $5.5M defamation suit.   

He said the blow could be softened if the judge ordered co-accused Andrew Fitch-Holland to pay some of the reparations.

Cairns has been receiving legal aid to pay for his QC Orlando Pownall, but it’s understood he will have to meet some of the costs himself.

“Even if he’s acquitted I think he’ll be scraping the bottom of the bank account,” Gallavin said.

Cairns’ parlous financial state was revealed even before the trial when it was reported he was cleaning bus shelters around Auckland to support his family.

During the trial he revealed he’d had to borrow $104,000 from a friend in Dubai to fund his libel case. He was painted to the court as a man with scant financial resources.

At one point around 2002 he was paid $75,000 a year by New Zealand Cricket, and had been involved in a series of businesses – fudge, sports statistics, the diamond trade, real estate and a private television venture – without a great deal of success.

Not quite the businessman, he was trading on his name.  But as people got to meet him and work with him, the gloss quickly came off.  His arrogance and superiority complex damaging relationships.

His big break was getting a three-year cricket contract worth just over US$1 million to play in the Indian Cricket League, only for the unsanctioned tournament to collapse at the end of 2008 after one year.

Former team-mate Daniel Vettori told the court he asked Cairns to get him a $22,175 diamond in India, but the jewel never arrived and he had to wait two years to get his money back. When it finally came, it was in 20 pound notes.

After Cairns won the libel trial, Fitch-Holland sent Cairns an email demanding he be paid for his time and effort on the case.

So far “I have received exactly nothing,” Fitch-Holland wrote. “You have made me look like an absolute fool. Not once have you even said sorry.”

Gallavin said Cairns’ legal team would go over the judge’s rulings and directions to the jury “with a fine tooth comb” looking for grounds to appeal in the event of a guilty verdict.

If he was found not guilty, he would have no recourse.

In spite of the judge summing up like a defence lawyer, the critical question that remains to be answered is: why would so many people lie in unison?  There appears to be only one answer that fits – to punish Cairns.  And if that’s the case, what on earth did he do that warranted this amount of animosity for numerous people to come to court and lie?

There may not be sufficient evidence to find Cairns guilty beyond reasonable doubt.  But there is absolutely no evidence that supports his innocence.


– Tony Wall, Sunday Star Times

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