"intelligent and useful posts on many of the key legal issues"

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Friday, 24 October 2014

Cricket and a High Court Judge

Here is a story on cricket and law from the BBC

"A High Court judge presiding over a planning battle involving a cricket ground demonstrated a lack of knowledge of the sport by asking: "What are sixes and fours?"

Mrs Justice Beverley Lang was hearing a challenge to a plan to extend a former forge beside a Hampshire cricket pitch.

She asked the question when she was told that balls crossed the boundary line at East Meon's cricket ground.

A lawyer at the hearing explained the rules of the game to the baffled judge.

East Meon Forge and Cricket Ground Protection Association is challenging East Hampshire District Council's decision to grant planning permission for an extension with a residential first floor over the single-storey former blacksmith's workshop.

Robert Fookes, appearing for the association, told Mrs Justice Lang that one of the grounds of objection to the development was that the forge was very close to the cricket square and "sixes and fours are frequently hit by batsmen on to forge land, including the roof of the building itself".

The judge said: "I don't play cricket - what does that mean?

Well, different strokes for different folks, if I can be excused the pun. But it is perhaps as well that the learned judge was not the one who heard Miller v Jackson, which features as the cover above ... Perhaps I should send a copy of the book to the Judicial Studies Board?

Monday, 6 October 2014

Kevin Pietersen revelations

Much press interest in cricket at the moment is being given to Kevin Pietersen's new book and his complaints about his former England teammates.

Just as with the match fixing allegations which continue to plague cricket, some confidential material has apparently been leaked.  A third incident in recent times concerned the leaking of confidential emails from Darryl Hair after the ICC disowned him over the Pakistani forfeit test.  All three incidents are unrelated, but one does wonder why no-one in cricket seems to be able to keep a secret. The implications for the management of cricket are severe: no commercial organisation can continue to function successfully if confidential information is leaked every time there might be some press interest in it. I wrote about this in a bit more detail in Court & Bowled.

As to who is telling the truth, it is not easy for outsiders to determine.  As Nasser Hussain pointed out, team spirit is always high when a team is winning and tends to collapse when a team is losing.  And once Mitchell Johnson returned as a bowler of the very highest class, no amount of team spirit was going to help the English tail play him (the main difference between the home and away Ashes in 2013/14 was that in England the English tail wagged often enough in a low scoring series to make a difference; in Australia Haddin scored crucial lower order runs in almost every innings whilst the English tail was destroyed by Johnson).

I would observe though that KP was a genuinely great player, and I don't doubt there were other villains in English cricket during his time, but he still has to ask himself why he fell out with so many of the teams for whom he played.  And the management and former teammates have to ask themselves why they were not able to deal with a player who had played 100 tests despite his sins.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Chris Cairns appears in Westminster Magistrates Court

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.

Against Cairns:

"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.