"He's guilty, Cairnsy's guilty," is what a friend of Chris Cairns told Chris Harris at a party ahead of a defamation case against a powerful cricket official, a court has been told.

Harris was the last former New Zealand cricket player to give evidence at the trial of Cairns, a "close friend" whom he had known since he was 10 years old.

Cairns and his friend, Andrew Fitch-Holland - described earlier in the trial as a "cricket groupie" - are jointly charged with perverting the course of justice while Cairns alone faces a charge of perjury.

All the charges relate to a successful libel case which Cairns took against powerful cricket official Lalit Modi who claimed he was a match-fixer.


Harris appeared in the Southwark Crown Court by video link and told the jury about a charity cricket fundraiser in 2010 which he played in.

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He remembered a conversation at the event in Kent, attended by up to 1000 people, with his wife Linda and a few other cricketers. At this point in time, Cairns had started legal proceedings against Modi but the trial was yet to happen.

Fitch-Holland joined the conversation, said Harris, and someone else said words to the effect of "Poor Cairnsy, what's about Cairnsy?"

Harris said Fitch-Holland responded: "Oh he's guilty, Cairnsy's guilty."

"I remember thinking it was strange for him to say something like that openly," said Harris, who thought Fitch-Holland might have been "trying to make out that he had inside knowledge".

Fitch-Holland was a "trusted friend", said Harris.

He thought the match-fixing defamation case against Modi was the context of the "Cairnsy's guilty" comment from Fitch-Holland.

Chris Harris and Chris Cairns in 2000. Harris said the two had been friends since he was 10. Photo / Getty Images
Chris Harris and Chris Cairns in 2000. Harris said the two had been friends since he was 10. Photo / Getty Images

But under questioning from Jonathan Laidlaw QC, Harris conceded it was a "possibility" that Fitch-Holland was commenting on Cairns' marital problems.

He agreed with Mr Laidlaw that Fitch-Holland enjoyed the lunch at Kent, consumed a "good deal" of alcohol and was also known as someone who can "express views on a number of topics in a loud and forceful way".

If Fitch-Holland had used the phrase "Cairnsy's guilty," Mr Laidlaw said it was in the context of Cairns' personal life.

Harris agreed that Fitch-Holland was close to Cairns' former wife Carin and had made "disparaging" remarks about Chris Cairns the breakdown of the marriage.

It was a "possibility" Fitch-Holland had referred to Cairns' personal life, said Harris, but he believed the defamation case against Modi was the context of the conversation.

Earlier in the day, Harris said he remembered a "number of strange incidents" in a match Chris Cairns played in India - including an "unusual" expression on his face when Cairns' team won.

Andrew Fitch-Holland is charged with perverting the course of justice. Photo / Getty Images
Andrew Fitch-Holland is charged with perverting the course of justice. Photo / Getty Images

They both played in the Indian Cricket League when they retired from the international game; Harris for the Hyderabad Heroes and Cairns for the Chandigarh Lions.

One match which Harris remembered was a game between the Mumbai Champs and the Chandigarh Lions in 2008, captained by Cairns.

Mumbai batted first and scored a "modest total", then Chandigarh struggled in the run chase until the wicketkeeper came in and scored very quickly to win the game.

Harris said it was a "splendid innings" which turned the game on its head and the television camera focused on Cairns.

He said the winning captain had an "unusual expression" on his face, "almost seemed like he was not pleased" about the victory.

But under cross-examination from Orlando Pownall QC, Harris was shown some television footage of the Chandigarh Lions' player hitting a six to win the game.


Cairns was seen smiling and embracing a fellow player on the sideline.

"It's perfectly plain, that after that six went over the boundary, the Chandigarh Lions appeared to be delighted," said Mr Pownall. "Do you agree?"

"I don't believe that was the footage I saw," said Harris. "I would agree with you that was a fair amount of emotion after winning a game."

He was asked if he had made an error.

"It would certainly seem so on the emotion Mr Cairns showed."

Harris also told the jury about a match between the Hyderabad Heroes, which he captained, and the Chandigarh Lions.


Winning the toss at that particular ground was important, said Harris, as the team which bowled first won 80 per cent of the time.

Cairns won the toss and elected to bat, said Harris.

"It was a bit of a surprise to me."

But under questioning from Mr Pownall, Harris agreed there were a number of factors a captain should take into account when deciding to bat or bowl and sometimes they "have to eat humble pie" when they get it wrong.

By Jared Savage in London