High-profile cricketers called in to bat at Cairns perjury trial

Chris Cairns faces up to seven years' jail if the perjury charges stick.

A star-studded line-up of international cricketers, including current and former captains, have been named as witnesses in former Black Caps allrounder Chris Cairns’ perjury trial, reports say.

Overnight media reports say the trial of Mr Cairns, himself a former Black Caps captain, began at Southwark Crown Court in London last night (New Zealand time).

He has pleaded not guilty to a perjury charge, stemming from his 2012 libel trial in which he won £90,000 ($210,000) damages when he sued Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi over a tweet that accused him of match-fixing.

Mr Modi declared himself bankrupt shortly before the 2012 verdict.

The Crown now alleges Mr Cairns, 45, made a statement during that trial that he knew to be false when he declared he “never, ever cheated at cricket and nor would he ever contemplate such a thing.”

Mr Cairns faces up to seven years' jail if the perjury charges stick.

His lawyer in the 2012 case, Andrew Fitch-Holland is his co-defendant in the trial, which could go until November 20.

The barrister is accused of asking another former Black Cap, Lou Vincent, to provide a false witness statement in connection with the libel action between Mr Cairns and Mr Modi.

Reports say a list of about 50 witnesses was read out in court last night, with the first set to be heard on October 12.

This is expected to be Mr Vincent, who was last year banned for life following a match-fixing confession.

Other witnesses reportedly include former Black Caps captains Stephen Fleming, John Parker and Daniel Vettori, as well as current captain Brendon McCullum.

Former Australian captain Ricky Ponting is also listed as a witness, along with former teammates of Mr Cairns, including Shane Bond, Andre Adams, Chris Harris and Kyle Mills.

The trial is being heard before Justice Nigel Sweeney, with the prosecution represented by Sasha Wass, QC, while Mr Cairns is being defended by Orlando Pownell, QC.

A jury of 12 will be sworn in later this week before the substantive trial begins next week.

In July, Justice Sweeney said he was “not impressed” after Mr Cairns failed to show up for a pre-trial hearing.

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