By Alan Gardner at the Royal Courts of Justice
March 26, 2012
Chris Cairns, the former New Zealand allrounder, has won his libel case against Lalit Modi and has been awarded damages of £90,000 (US$142,000). Modi was also ordered to pay costs - which amounted to more than £1.5m ($2.4m) - by the judge, David Bean, who delivered his judgement on Monday morning. Neither Cairns nor Modi was present in court.
"Today's verdict lifts a dark cloud that has been over me for the past two years," Cairns said. "I feel great relief that I am able to walk into any cricket ground in the world with my head held high."
Cairns was suing the former IPL chairman in the UK's first Twitter libel case over a defamatory tweet sent in January 2010, in which Modi referred to Cairns' alleged involvement in match-fixing as the reason for barring him from the IPL auction. Cairns brought the matter to court, saying the allegations threatened to reduce his cricketing achievements to "dust".
Justice Bean, however, said that Modi had "singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence" that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was.
"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," the judge said. "The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences (to take two examples from recent cases). But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman."
The case centred on the reason for Cairns' suspension and dismissal from the Indian Cricket League (ICL), a rival Twenty20 league to the IPL. Cairns captained the Chandigarh Lions in the ICL but had his contract cancelled shortly after the start of the third edition in October 2008. The official reason given was Cairns' failure to disclose an ankle injury but Modi's legal team argued that this was an orchestrated "cover-up" to conceal his involvement in corrupt activity.
The court heard evidence from several of Cairns' former Chandigarh team-mates, who made various claims against him. On the witness stand, where he gave evidence for almost eight hours, Cairns vigorously denied the allegations against him and the judge found in his favour, casting doubt on several of the witnesses' reliability.
Modi's team was granted permission to appeal the level of damages.
Modi losing it all.