November 30, 2015

LONDON (AP) Former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns was cleared Monday of perjury and perverting the course of justice during a libel action about match-fixing but said he believes his career in the sport is over.

The London jury cleared the retired cricketer of all charges at the end of a nine-week trial at Southwark Crown Court.

''It's been hell for the last five or so years,'' Cairns said after leaving court. ''I couldn't be more happy. It's not a victory as such because a case like this I don't think there are any winners. It's been hell for everyone involved.''

Asked if he could work in cricket again, the 45-year-old Cairns responded: ''No.''

''It would be a pretty hard environment to go back into,'' he added. ''There has been a lot of damage done. I think that's unfortunate and sad.''

Cairns had been accused of lying when he said he had ''never, ever cheated at cricket'' while successfully suing former Indian Premier League founder Lalit Modi three years ago. Modi had used Twitter to accuse Cairns of fixing a game in the now defunct Indian Cricket League - a rival Twenty20 competition to the IPL - in 2008.

Cairns was also accused of perverting the course of justice by inducing fellow cricketer Lou Vincent to provide a false witness statement during a Skype call. The perjury case heard evidence from a host of former cricketers including Vincent, Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, Andre Adams, Chris Harris and former Australia captain Ricky Ponting.

Vincent claimed he was involved in the fixing scandal under ''direct orders'' from Cairns, while current New Zealand captain McCullum said Cairns approached him with a ''business proposition'' about match fixing.

But Cairns repeatedly denied that he was ever involved in match-fixing as he defended himself during the trial. He said there was ''no truth'' to allegations he had tried to persuade Vincent to join him in cheating.

Cairns said he reacted with ''horror'' and ''anger'' when Modi accused him of match-fixing and he was ''shocked'' that McCullum could accuse him of trying to recruit him to fix results.

Cairns told the court he discussed the topic of ''spot-fixing'' with McCullum in 2008 in Calcutta and explained spread-betting to him because match-fixing was ''topical'' in India at the time.

Cairns said there was ''minimal'' time spent discussing match-fixing, and said it was ''completely wrong'' to suggest spread-betting was the equivalent to match-fixing.

After 10 hours of deliberations by the jury, Cairns' friend, barrister Andrew Fitch-Holland, was also cleared of perverting the course of justice.

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