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Why Lalit Modi dropped his case against Chris Cairns

Chris Cairns and Lalit Modi. Photos / Getty Images
Chris Cairns and Lalit Modi. Photos / Getty Images

A lack of fresh evidence prevented Lalit Modi's multimillion-dollar civil claim against former cricketer Chris Cairns from proceeding, the Indian billionaire's lawyer says.

The Herald understands none of the three direct prosecution witnesses - New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum, former Black Cap Lou Vincent and Vincent's ex-wife Elly Riley - would have been willing to come forward again after last year's perjury trial, in which Cairns was found not guilty.

Modi would have been forced to deploy resources to seek testimony elsewhere.

Cairns has always denied any wrongdoing in the matter.

As a result, Modi, the former boss of the Indian Premier League, dropped a $3.3 million claim lodged in November against the former New Zealand all-rounder.

That means he has given up trying to recover costs from the libel suit Cairns won in 2012 over a tweet sent by Modi. Cairns said the content of the tweet was effectively a "death sentence" in the cricket world. Modi paid Cairns almost $950,000 in damages and costs.

Speaking to the Herald last night, Modi's lawyer Rajesh Vyakarnam explained some of the background behind his client's decision.

"I can't go into the substantive reasons. Lalit is still subject to the injunction from the first trial. We spoke to some of the witnesses before the criminal trial to get their version of events. Over the Christmas period we told them we were considering the next steps in the civil claim. No one told me they wouldn't come again as witnesses because I didn't ask them."

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If the criminal case had resulted in a guilt verdict, there would have been no need for a full civil trial.

The judgment could have been taken to the civil court and Modi could have applied for the 2012 judgment to be overturned. In light of the criminal trial decision, and the judge's directions to the jury that they had to believe two of the three direct witnesses, it was expected to be difficult to persuade a civil judge to overturn the findings of the jury without new evidence, despite the lower burden of proof where "beyond reasonable doubt" became "on the balance of probabilities".

In the immediate aftermath of the verdict, Cairns told Newstalk ZB: "In the words of [Winston] Churchill, it is not the end. It is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning."

He said of Modi: "I think a man with his means and his power, he lurks out there and I have to be very, very conscious of that. I will take stock and deal with that situation and if it does come about I will take it in my stride."

Cairns was unavailable for comment last night.

- NZ Herald

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