A former senior police officer denies anti-corruption investigators ignored Brendon McCullum's original allegations against Chris Cairns, telling a court they did "not just go into a cupboard".

Sir Ronald Flanagan "utterly rejected" a suggestion that officials did not punish players such as McCullum for delays in reporting alleged match-fixing approaches in order to get Cairns' scalp.

Giving evidence at Southwark Crown Court in London, where Cairns stands trial on perjury charges, Sir Ronald described how players became entrapped in corruption through "honey traps" and blackmail, often becoming physically ill from stress about how to report the approach.

Brendon McCullum has testified that Cairns approached him about match-fixing. Photo / Getty Images
Brendon McCullum has testified that Cairns approached him about match-fixing. Photo / Getty Images

Sir Ronald, a 40-year veteran of the police force, was in charge of keeping the peace in Ulster and Northern Ireland during the troubles with the IRA.

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He is now the chairman of the Anti Corruption and Security Unit within the International Cricket Council.

He said McCullum first gave a statement to John Rhodes, an investigator for the ACSU, in February 2011 - nearly two and half years after he alleged Cairns approached him twice about spread betting in 2008.

Under questioning from Cairns' defence lawyer, Orlando Pownall QC, Sir Ronald disagreed with the suggestion he was "disappointed" he did not see the original McCullum statement until September 2013.

He also disagreed that the ACSU did "nothing" with the statement.

"If there was any truth to what McCullum was saying, there was at least a possibility that [Chris Cairns] as continuing to be involved in corrupt activity?" asked Mr Pownall.

"We need to be clear that this statement didn't just go into a cupboard," said Sir Ronald. "It would be wrong, an incorrect perception."

He explained that the McCullum statement would have been fed into the ACSU intelligence database, analytic software used by police forces around the world, to see whether any of the information could be corroborated.

Any decision on whether further investigation was needed would be made by the general manager, Ravinder Sawani, who will also be called as witness.

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Mr Pownall asked Sir Ronald whether the ICC had a "zero tolerance" approach to breaches of the code of ethics. Failing to report an approach of spot fixing "without undue delay" could lead to a playing ban of between one and five years.

Sir Ronald agreed there was "zero tolerance" approach but with a caveat. He made an analogy to crimes on a spectrum from a minor assault to a murder.

"There is a zero tolerance approach to all those crimes. But the punishment for each is different."

Given McCullum had admitted to a breach of the code, Mr Pownall asked Sir Ronald what he expected should have happened.

Chris Cairns and Brendon McCullum in 2006. Photo / Getty Images
Chris Cairns and Brendon McCullum in 2006. Photo / Getty Images

"It's important to come back to the caveat. What we want is a system where players are encouraged to report any improper approaches," he said.

Sir Ronald did not like the term "whistleblower" and referred instead to "reporters of wrongdoing", who must be treated with sensitivity.

He also said the code of conduct had changed since 2008, when McCullum said he was first approached by Cairns, and the delay in reporting an approach was not necessarily a breach of the rules at that time.

Many players approached to spot or matchfixing had been the victims of the "classic honey trap", enticed into compromising positions with young women and then blackmailed, he said. Coming forward to report the alleged approach was stressful.

"They feel like they've been drawn into a terrible situation, staying awake at night because they don't know what to do about that approach," he said.

"I think it is right to show understanding. To get rid of the scourge of corruption in the wonderful game of cricket, we have to use discretion about offences and punishment [for those coming forward with information]."

McCullum and former New Zealand cricketer Lou Vincent had told a number of players that Cairns had approached them to fix games, including Shane Bond, Andre Adams, Kyle Mills, Stephen Fleming and Daniel Vettori.

None of them immediately reported what McCullum and Vincent told them, said Mr Pownall.

Sir Ronald said he had "no feelings of great concern" that those players were not disciplined.

He "utterly" rejected the suggestion from Mr Pownall that the ACSU ignored the delays in reporting by Brendon McCullum and others in order to achieve the "scalp of Chris Cairns".

"That is not how we do business."

Crown prosecutor Sasha Wass QC asked Sir Ronald whether the "scalp of Chris Cairns" had enhanced the reputation of international cricket.

"If scalp turns out to be an accurate description, I think it's an absolute tragedy."

Sir Ronald's appearance as a witness was kept secret until he appeared in court because of security concerns as a former target of terrorism.

The case continues.