Lalit Modi loses libel case against Chris Cairns in London Court

Chris Cairns during hearing at the High Court in London on March 5 Getty Images

London: Mar 26, 2012

Lalit Modi’s cup of woes seems to be overflowing as the axed IPL Commissioner today lost a libel case to former New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns and will have to pay 90,000 pounds (app Rs 73 lakhs) in damages to the all-rounder.

Neither party was present when the verdict – which is open to appeal – was announced in the High Court in London.

Modi had accused Cairns of being involved in match-fixing during the rebel Indian Cricket League in 2008.

The embattled administrator will now have to cough up a part of the damages within the next 28 days and has until April 20 to file an appeal.

“Your client is a man of some means, you’ll need to persuade me on a stay,” the court said when Modi’s lawyer asked for a stay on damages.

Cairns was captain of Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League but his contract was terminated in October 2008, during the third edition of the tournament. The official reason given was that Cairns had breached the terms of his contract by failing to disclose an ankle injury.

In his capacity as IPL commissioner at that point, Modi had made these allegations on twitter in 2010 while justifying the decision to keep Cairns out of the league.

Cairns, 41, then sued Modi, stating that “the claim was untrue and therefore libellous, and had damaged his reputation.”

After hearing the arguments from both sides in a nine-day trial, Justice David Bean of the London High Court ruled in favour of Cairns.

Justice David Bean, who was hearing the case without a jury, also awarded Cairns ?400,000 in interim costs, which Modi will have to pay within 28 days.

The judge said Modi had “singularly failed” to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or even strong grounds for suspicion of cheating.

“It is obvious that an allegation that a professional cricketer is a match-fixer goes to the core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity,” Justice Bean said.

“The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences. But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman”, the judge said.

Modi’s legal team told the court Cairns was corrupt but the Kiwi insisted his ICL dismissal was due to an ankle injury which he did not declare.

Cairns said the match-fixing allegation put a strain on his marriage as well.

“It had a profound effect on my personal and private life,” Cairns told the court.

In his four-hour closing summary, Cairns’ lawyer Andrew Caldecott QC had stated that his client had been made “a scapegoat of convenience”. (PTI)