Whatever the outcome of a criminal charge laid against Chris Cairns in London yesterday, the cricketer deserves credit for going voluntarily and immediately to Britain to face the charge. He went declaring confidence he could clear his name of match-fixing suspicion "once and for all", nevertheless it was brave. The charge of perjury, arising from his successful defamation suit against the former head of the Indian Premier League in 2012, carries a possible seven-year prison sentence.
His courage is particularly welcome because Cairns, like all New Zealanders, has had a recent demonstration of how difficult it can be to extradite somebody from this country to face charges in another. Kim Dotcom will spring to everyone's mind, though Dotcom is not the only example.
Australia has been trying for two years to extradite a former member of a Catholic religious order, Bernard Kevin McGrath, to face 252 charges of child-sex abuse. The case has been bouncing between the Christchurch District Court Judge, the High Court and the Minister of Justice. The lower court judge's ruling that McGrath should stand trial across the Tasman, was appealed to the High Court, which ruled that the judge should reconsider her decision to refer the case to the minister for a decision. The judge did so, and again referred to the minister, Judith Collins, who last month, in what turned out to be one of her last ministerial decisions, ordered McGrath's surrender to Australian police. His lawyer has gone back to the High Court to challenge the order.
Two years and eight months after the raid on Dotcom's mansion, his case appears to be at a much earlier stage than McGrath's. Court hearings have been taken up with preliminary matters. The case proper might begin in March. Those seeking Dotcom's extradition may have contributed to the pace of proceedings. His lawyer has complained that the six major Hollywood studios headed by the Motion Picture Association of America, have been slow to serve papers detailing their charges of "massive copyright infringement of movies and television shows".
Dotcom denies the charges just as Cairns does, but he is not as willing to go and face them. It is time he reconsidered his position.
He has just taken part in a general election, putting up candidates for Parliament with the declared aim of replacing the Government he seems to blame for his legal predicament. That campaign has now failed miserably. When the results came in last Saturday night, Dotcom was a more gracious loser than some others, accepting personal blame for Internet-Mana's pitiful tally and Hone Harawira's loss of his seat. "My brand is poison," he said. He was so right.
Whatever personal or business benefit he saw for himself in this country has surely disappeared. His admission from the stage at his campaign launch, that he hacked an account held by a previous German PM, put paid to his reputation, or brand as he calls it. His "moment of truth" in the final week left him with no credibility in this country.
New Zealanders do not take kindly to a guest announcing he will change their Government, they do not want voting advice from the likes of Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. Dotcom miscalculated badly. He has had the decency to admit it. Now, he should do the honourable thing in law. He should accept the warrant for his extradition and go.