Chris Cairns appeared today in Westminster Magistrates Court. The hearing was to set a date for trial and terms for bail (should it be granted). The fact that Cairns voluntarily travelled to England to face the charges would count very heavily in his favour for granting bail, as would the fact that New Zealand and England have an extradition treaty in force.
Yesterday I contacted the Crown Prosecution Service, who replied:
"Chris Lance Cairns is charged with 1 x perjury.
- The trial date has not yet been set, however Chris Lance Cairns is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 2 October 2014.
- The co-defendant is Andrew Fitch-Holland, who has been charged with 1 x perverting the course of justice
- On 12 September 2014 the CPS confirmed the below to the media:
‘We can confirm that we have authorised police to charge Chris Cairns with one count of perjury, which arises from a libel trial held in the UK in March 2012. We have also authorised police to charge Andrew Fitch-Holland with one count of perverting the course of justice, which arises from actions taken relating to the same trial. Both suspects will be formally charged by police in due course’."
The NZ Herald reports the charges were read out as follows. Against Mr Fitch-Holland:
"On March 23rd, 2011, he perverted the course of public justice in asking Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement in the libel case between Chris Cairns and Lalit Modi.
"And Mr Cairns, the allegation against you is that between October 1st and March 31st, 2012, having been a witness in the libel trial, you wilfully made a statement that you knew to be false when you said you never cheated at cricket and would never contemplate it."
Both defendants have maintained their innocence throughout and maintained that they will fully contest all charges.
What is of particular interest to cricket fans is the way the charge against Cairns is framed. It is not that he made some specific, detailed claims in the Modi case that were wrong, say about which country he was in at any particular time or that he was involved in X game and so on. Instead, it is that he made a total denial of any match fixing anywhere, ever. Trivial examples - such as Cairns merely raising the subject with players in a general conversation - would not suffice, it would have to be concrete evidence beyond reasonable doubt that he had actually taken money to underperform or had made a definite, unambiguous offer to another player.