Pressure on Cairns
Judge delivers warning after lack of straight answers
Chris Cairns has received a warning from Justice Sweeney, the judge presiding over his perjury trial in London, after repeatedly failing to give straight answers during a tense cross-examination from Sasha Wass, QC, the crown prosecutor.
After restricting himself to one-word answers to his own lawyer, Orlando Pownall, during his first day in the witness box today, Cairns was today told by Justice Sweeney to stop “making speeches” as he struggled to respond to Wass’s line of questioning.
Opening her cross-examination, Wass asked Cairns, who denies two counts of perjury and perverting the course of justice, if he agreed that he had been “a most unfortunate individual” to have had so many former team-mates and acquaintances giving sworn testimony that he was a match-fixer.
“Because,” she continued, after Cairns had failed to answer the first question, “if you’re telling the truth, you’ve been accused of match-fixing not once, not twice, but on three separate occasions. Do you think it’s unlucky to be accused on three separate occasions of something you haven’t done?”
Pressing for a yes or no answer, and pointing out that “reasonable sane people” don’t generally make spiteful allegations without a reason, Wass repeated the question several times, adding: “Perhaps if you answer the questions rather than think about where they’re going.”
When asked if he was trying to make the cross-examination last for weeks and weeks, Cairns replied, “Certainly not, I’d rather be at home with my family.”
In the course of the three-week trial, the court has heard from –– among others –– Cairns’ former teammates, Lou Vincent and Brendon McCullum, both of whom allege that he approached them to get involved in match-fixing, and Vincent’s ex-wife, Eleanor Riley, who claimed he had attempted to calm her fears about her then-husband’s activities by saying “everyone’s doing it”.
He said of Riley’s testimony that it was a “conversation we never had”, and when asked by Wass why McCullum, who is currently preparing for a Test series in Australia, would fly all the way to London just “to stitch you up”, Cairns replied: “Brendon is doing what’s best for Brendon.”
Cairns was then quizzed on the subject of the US$250,000 retainer he had been paid by VJ Dimon, an Indian diamond-trading company based in Dubai. Cairns said that the money had been owed to him for promotional work, rent and relocation costs, but Wass replied: “I’m going to suggest the money they were paying you was a reward to you for fixing cricket matches.”
She then pointed out that the company had arranged a visit to Dubai for Cairns, Vincent and Daryl Tuffey, the three players implicated in his match-fixing operation. “You were given a short holiday by your pay masters,” she said.
Cairns argued that his involvement in the diamond trade was a legitimate step into life after cricket and pointed out that he had obtained a diploma from the Gemology Institute of America after undergoing a three-month course in polished stones in Bangkok.
Asked whether he had asked his former employers to give evidence on his behalf, Cairns replied that everything that had happened to him in the intervening years had made him “toxic”. It is difficult, he said, to “get people to come along and support me”.
“Your business with them was match fixing,” Wass said, “and the last thing they’d want to do is come to court.”
The trial continues.