Former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns acquitted in perjury trial

Cairns, 45, faced trial after he successfully sued Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi for accusing him of match fixing on Twitter in 2010.

The libel case netted Cairns £90,000, but he was alleged to have lied to the court when he said he had "never, ever cheated at cricket".

The retired all-rounder was said to have perverted the course of justice by inducing fellow cricketer Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype call.

But following a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court in London, Cairns was found not guilty by a jury on both charges.

His friend and "legal adviser", barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, 50, of Burton Road, Manchester, was also cleared of perverting the course of justice.

After 10 hours of deliberations the jury was directed to acquit the lawyer by Mr Justice Sweeney in light of the cricketer's acquittal.

The pair stood to hear the verdicts with their arms crossed behind their backs, breathing audible sighs of relief as they heard they were cleared.

The barrister slumped in his chair and asked for a cup of water before Mr Justice Sweeney said to them: "If the defendants want to be released they can be."

Cairns beamed and slapped his barrister friend on the back as they left the glass panelled dock before joining his legal team at the back of the court.

Mr Fitch-Holland made his way to the public gallery and embraced his supporters.

Cairns, of Auckland, New Zealand, captained the Chandigarh Lions in three competitions in the Indian Cricket League (ICL), which flourished briefly before the ascendancy of the IPL, in 2007 and 2008. The allegation made by Mr Modi related to the second and third of these competitions, between March and April 2008 and October and November that year.

The jury heard evidence from a host of former cricketers including Mr Vincent, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Andre Adams, Chris Harris and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

Mr Vincent claimed he was involved in the fixing scandal under "direct orders" from his former captain, while current New Zealand skipper Mr McCullum said Cairns approached him with a "business proposition" about match fixing.

But Cairns repeatedly denied that he was ever involved in match-fixing as he defended himself during the trial.

He told the jury there was "no truth" to allegations he had tried to persuade his team-mate Mr Vincent to join him in cheating.

Cairns said he reacted with "horror" and "anger" when Mr Modi accused him of match-fixing and he was "shocked" that Mr McCullum could accuse him of trying to recruit him to fix results.

He told the court he discussed the topic of "spot-fixing" with Mr McCullum in April 2008 in Calcutta and explained spread-betting to him because match-fixing was "topical" in India at the time.

Cairns said there was "minimal" time spent discussing match-fixing, and said it was "completely wrong" to suggest spread-betting was the equivalent to match fixing.

During an emotional statement outside court Cairns said he had been through "hell" and would not be returning to cricket.

"It has not been a victory as such, because in a case like this there are no winners. It's been hell for everyone involved."

Asked if he would work in the sport again, he replied: "No, no, no."

He added: "It's my choice. I think it would be quite a hard environment to go back into. There has been a lot of damage done and I think that's unfortunate."

The cricketer fought back tears as he described the strain of being away from his family for nearly three months.

Cairns said the case had "completely scorched" him and his family, although the acquittals meant his relatives back in New Zealand could now "walk with their heads held high".

He added that he would "think about Mr Modi maybe next week".

Referring to a speech made in court by his barrister, Orlando Pownall QC, the cricketer suggested there was "confirmation bias" and an "assumption of guilt" among the prosecution witnesses.

He commented: "I don't think people were there with malicious intent. We are talking about a long time ago."

The cricketer thanked the jury for its verdict and his lawyers, describing the British legal system as "robust".

But he described his initial confusion over the jury's verdict as he was unable to hear from the dock.

"I saw Fitch's face and the jubilation came home.

"I've been through the mill and come through the other side and I'm just a very happy man."

His legal team have been given 21 days to apply for to have his expenses recouped.

The International Cricket Council responded to the verdict with a brief statement.

The statement read: "The ICC notes the decision of the jury finding Mr Chris Cairns not guilty and confirms its utmost respect for the process that has been followed.

"The ICC and its Anti Corruption Unit (ACU) will continue to work closely with and provide all possible support to players in order that the fight against corruption can be tackled effectively and collectively.

"The ICC will not make any further comment on this matter."

  Former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns was found not guilty of perjury at Southwark Crown Court
Former New Zealand captain Chris Cairns was found not guilty of perjury at Southwark Crown Court