Chris Cairns appearing at a press conference earlier this year
Chris Cairns appearing at a press conference earlier this year AFP PHOTO - Michael Bradley

Former Kiwi cricketer charged with perjury in London

CHRIS Cairns has been charged with Perjury by the London Metropolitan Police Service.

Cairns, who recently arrived in London, attended a North London Police station to receive the charge which carries with it a maximum sentence in the UK of seven years in prison.

Andrew Fitch-Holland, a London Barrister who appeared during the Libel Case in question, has also been charged with one count of perverting the course of Justice.

Cairns will appear in a central London magistrates court next week for an initial hearing at which he will confirm his identity and enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. A date for the full hearing, which will be heard in the Courts of Justice in London, will also be set although that is not likely to be until at least May 2015.

Cairns will be able to return to New Zealand after the initial hearing on the proviso he returns to the UK for the full hearing next year.

The risk of him absconding is low as there is a full extradition treaty in place between the New Zealand and the UK. He will also be eligible to claim legal aid in the UK to help him with the costs of fighting the case.

Chris Cairns (left) leaves the field after a Black Caps match.
Chris Cairns (left) leaves the field after a Black Caps match.

Separately to the criminal charges, Lalit Modi's lawyers have begun civil proceedings against Cairns to recover the £90,000 paid in damages and costs following the libel case in 2012.

Last week, the Herald revealed that the Metropolitan Police investigating the perjury case contacted their New Zealand counterparts about a potential trial witness, Black Caps skipper Brendon McCullum, being undermined by material in the possession of Cairns.

A photograph of Cairns -- taken shortly after the Herald broke the news of the perjury charge against him -- showed him carrying a clear plastic folder titled "BMC" and the names of McCullum and Kerry Schwalger.

McCullum was then forced to swear an affidavit about his former professional relationship with Schwalger, his former mental skills coach, as part of a High Court injunction to stop a Sunday newspaper from publishing confidential information.

His lawyer, Garth Gallaway, said McCullum's resolve was "stronger than ever" and the episode also led New Zealand Cricket boss David White to issue a statement supporting his national skipper.

McCullum is likely to be a key witness against Cairns. However, it is possible the material could be aired at trial if the perjury case goes ahead.

The credibility of other witnesses, such as confessed match-fixer Lou Vincent, is likely to be challenged by Cairns' legal team.

Up to a dozen former New Zealand representatives could be called as witnesses.

Cairns has denied any wrongdoing and said the perjury trial would give "an opportunity to face my accusers in an open forum ... so that I can clear my name once and for all".

The perjury charge stems from Cairns' successful defamation case in 2012 when he won damages of $174,000 and costs of $775,000 against Lalit Modi, the former boss of the Indian Premier League, over allegations of match-fixing.

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