London: Chris Cairns, the former New Zealand allrounder, has won a libel case against former IPL chief Lalit Modi in a London court. Modi will now have to pay ₤90,000 pounds in damages, per a judgment by Justice David Bean in court.
The result is a major victory for Cairns, who had sued Modi over a Twitter update the former IPL honcho had posted in January 2010, accusing him of match-fixing during season two of the now defunct Indian Cricket League (ICL). Neither Cairns nor Modi were present in London's High Court when the verdict - which is open to appeal - was announced.
Justice Bean, who was hearing the case without a jury, also awarded Cairns £400,000 in interim costs, which Modi will have to pay within 28 days. "Your client is a man of some means, you'll need to persuade me on a stay," he said when Modi's lawyer asked for a stay on damages.
The judge said Modi had "singularly failed" to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or even strong grounds for suspicion of cheating.
"It is obvious that an allegation that a professional cricketer is a match-fixer goes to the core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity," said Justice Bean. "The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences. But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman."
Cairns, 41, had taken legal action shortly after Modi's tweet which said that Cairns had been removed from the IPL auction list because of his involvement in match-fixing during the ICL.
At the time, Modi had tweeted in response to Cairns going to court: "Let him sue us, then we will produce what we have in court." Cairns issued the writ in London's High Court in January 2010, shortly after Modi's claims were made public.
During a nine-day trial, Modi's legal team told the court that Cairns was corrupt and had been released by the ICL for allegations against him. Modi's lawyer Ronald Thwaites QC told Cairns: "You left with your tail between your legs in the hope the match-fixing wouldn't leak out."
In reply, Cairns said he did not complain because he was determined to rejoin the ICL. He denied that he had ever cheated and insisted that his dismissal from the Chandigarh Lions – of whom he was captain – was because of a persistent ankle injury which he failed to notify the ICL of.
Cairns termed the allegations "wholly untrue" and that they had a "profound effect" on his personal life, even putting a strain on his marriage. He told the court that the allegations of cheating were "damaging" and that if uncorrected it would "destroy" all that he had achieved over a successful 20-year career.