London: The man who was in charge of anti-corruption operations in the Indian Cricket League (ICL) has described how his investigations were "handicapped" by officials who had their own "agenda". Howard Beer, an Australian former homicide detective, was giving evidence on day three of Chris Cairns' libel claim against former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi in London's High Court.
Beer also confirmed that at no stage had he handed over any of his findings to anti-corruption officials at the ICC.
Cairns, the retired New Zeland international, is suing Modi over a 2010 tweet that suggested his involvement in match-fixing activity during his time as captain of the Chandigarh Lions in the ICL - claims which he vigorously denies. Cairns left Chandigarh after three games of the third edition of the ICL, with the official reason given as his failure to disclose an ankle injury.
Beer revealed that the suggestion Cairns was involved in match-fixing at the ICL was first put to him by Kiran More, the former India wicketkeeper and one of the league's executive directors. However, More would not reveal the source of his information, Beer said.
Beer was informed by More before the start of the third edition of the ICL that one team was suspected of corrupt activity but not initially told which team it was. After an incident in which a player with the Mumbai Champs, Hasan Raza, was alleged to have lied about a man seen entering his room, Beer was told by More not to investigate Raza further.
Asked by Andrew Caldecott QC, representing Cairns, whether he was "handicapped in carrying out a full investigation" into the Mumbai Champs incident, Beer said: "Yes".
The court heard that Beer was also told by More that he had information that the game between Mumbai Champs and Chandigarh Lions on October 13, 2008 had been fixed. In separate interviews, conducted as part of Beer's investigations, Mumbai coach Sandeep Patil and captain Nathan Astle both reported concerns about the game.
It was at this point that Beer was informed that the ICL's suspicions were focused on Chandigarh. "There was a suggestion by Kiran More that Mr Cairns was involved," Beer said, though no evidence to support the claim was put before him. "It was a closed shop, they only told me what they wanted to tell me."
Shortly after this, Beer was informed that ICL executives wanted to take over the investigation themselves. When asked by Caldecott if he thought that was "irregular", Beer replied: "Yes."
"They had not been cooperative all the way through," he said. "They weren't going to change." Asked if he thought they had their own agenda, he said: "Yes. What it was, I don't know."
Caldecott suggested: "They didn't want you digging around, did they?" Beer responded by saying: "You could draw that inference."
It was also revealed that JP Yadav, a player with the Delhi Giants, said that he had been approached by Chandigarh players Dinesh Mongia and TP Singh but did not mention Cairns. Several of the interviews with players who have accused Cairns were not conducted in English, Beer said, at one point admitting "I had no idea what was going on," during the questioning of one player.
Earlier, when under examination from Ronald Thwaites QC, representing Modi, Beer said that he had been present during the hotel meeting that led to Cairns' sacking and confirmed the evidence given in his witness statement that Cairns had looked at him and said: "Help me here, Howard." Cairns has denied saying this and claims that fixing was only mentioned in general terms during the meeting, with the discussion centring on his ankle injury.
The court also heard from Cairns' wife, Mel, and his advisor Andrew Fitch-Holland, who was instructed by Cairns to "shut down" rumours about match-fixing after his departure from the ICL. Fitch-Holland said, however, that there was a "massive difference" between gossip on fan websites and Modi's tweet.
Modi is due to take the stand on Thursday.