WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Cricket have promised to support Brendon McCullum after former test all-rounder Chris Cairns was acquitted of perjury in London despite evidence given against him by the Black Caps captain.
Cairns had been accused of falsely claiming he had never cheated at cricket when he won 90,000 pounds ($135,531) in damages from Lalit Modi, the former boss of the Indian Premier League, in a libel action three years ago.
McCullum was one of two former team mates, along with self-confessed matchfixer Lou Vincent, who gave key evidence against Cairns in the trial, accusing his predecessor as test skipper of twice asking him to fix matches.
On Monday, however, Cairns was found not guilty of perjury and perverting the course of justice, ending what the 45-year-old described as “five years of hell”.
“Brendon is an employee of ours, so we’ve got a duty of care around him that makes sure he’s in a safe working environment and free of harassment and all that humiliation stuff,” NZC chairman Stuart Heal told the New Zealand Herald.
“I hope it doesn’t come to that, but of course we will support Brendon. As I say, he’s our current captain and an employee of New Zealand Cricket.
“We need him on the park leading our side and doing what he does best.”
The International Cricket Council (ICC) acknowledged the verdict in the perjury trial in a brief statement.
“The ICC notes the decision of the jury finding Mr Chris Cairns not guilty and confirms its utmost respect for the process that has been followed,” it read.
“The ICC and its (Anti-Corruption Unit) will continue to work closely with and provide all possible support to players in order that the fight against corruption can be tackled effectively and collectively.”
Cairns acknowledged both meetings with McCullum, one in England and one in India, had taken place but said there was nothing sinister about them.
“I think overall, Brendon’s interpretation of what happened in 2008 has just changed. Why that is, I can’t answer for Brendon,” Cairns told Fox Sports TV in an interview in London on Monday.
“I suppose questions will be asked of Brendon as to why he did that.”
McCullum has come under fire for taking three years to report the alleged approaches by Cairns.
“I think it’s really important that we understand (he) came forward for the right reasons,” Heal added.
“I think with Brendon, he said — didn’t he — in the trial that he delayed his report on the basis that he was reluctant to incriminate a friend.
“And I think what was happening in 2008 and now, today — it is a different environment.”
Indian Modi acknowledged Cairns’ acquittal on Twitter, the same platform he used to allege the New Zealander had been involved in matchfixing in 2010, prompting the libel trial.
“I am aware of the verdict at Southwark Crown Court,” Modi tweeted from London.
“As you know I am limited in what I can say as I am restricted by the injunction put in place following the 2012 libel trial. I will consider how this affects my own civil claim against Mr Cairns in due course.”
($1 = 0.6641 pounds)
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)