London: Chris Cairns, the former New Zealand allrounder, has won his libel case against Lalit Modi and has been awarded damages of £90,000. Neither party was present when the verdict - which is open to appeal - was announced in the High Court in London.
Modi has been granted permission to appeal the verdict on damages but not liability.
Justice David Bean, who was hearing the case without a jury, also awarded Cairns £400,000 in interim costs, which Modi will have to pay within 28 days.
The judge said Modi had "singularly failed" to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or even strong grounds for suspicion of cheating.
"It is obvious that an allegation that a professional cricketer is a match-fixer goes to the core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity," Justice Bean said. "The allegation is not as serious as one of involvement in terrorism or sexual offences (to take two examples from recent cases). But it is otherwise as serious an allegation as anyone could make against a professional sportsman."
In a statement read out on his behalf after the verdict, Cairns said it "lifts a dark cloud hanging over me" for the past two years. "I feel great joy because my past creer has come through this unscathed and remains intact. I had the courage to stand up in the highest court to defend my name. I feel great relief that I am able to walk into any cricket ground in the world with my head held high."
On January 5, 2010, Modi tweeted that Cairns had been removed from the forthcoming IPL auction list because of his involvement with match-fixing. Cairns denied this but Modi responded by saying: "Let him sue us, then we will produce what we have in court." Cairns issued the writ in London's High Court in January 2010, shortly after Modi's claims were made public.
Cairns was captain of Chandigarh Lions in the Indian Cricket League but had his contract terminated in October 2008, during the third edition of the tournament. The official reason given was that Cairns had breached the terms of his contract by failing to disclose an ankle injury.
During the trial, Cairns spent almost eight hours giving evidence over two days. His witnesses included his wife Mel and advisor Andrew Fitch-Holland.