Cairns denies allegations

Former NZ cricketer Chris Cairns talks on his cellphone Day three of the first test match between New Zealand and the West Indies at University Oval. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Former NZ cricketer Chris Cairns talks on his cellphone Day three of the first test match between New Zealand and the West Indies at University Oval. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Black Cap Chris Cairns yesterday denied match-fixing or spot-fixing after revelations three former New Zealand cricketers are being investigated for corruption.

Cairns, who was speaking last evening at Auckland airport after returning home early from his cricket commentary duties in Dunedin, said he had not been aware of the allegations against him until yesterday.

He said he stood by his word he had never carried out match- or spot-fixing,

referring to the libel case he won in Britain after allegations were made against him previously.

Cairns said he had had no contact with any International Cricket Council investigators and ''my heart sank'' when he found out about the allegations yesterday.

He was named yesterday by New Zealand and international media as one of the three players - along with Lou Vincent and Daryl Tuffey - under investigation.

In a statement last night, Cairns said: ''No representative of the ICC, New Zealand Cricket or the New Zealand Players Association has contacted me in regard to any connection by me to an investigation into alleged fixing.

''I have no information, and was therefore shocked and dismayed to discover the speculation in today's media.

''Twenty months ago, the High Court in England ruled that I've done nothing wrong - which is on record for everyone to see.

''After an exhaustive trial process, the judge ruled that my accuser had 'singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Cairns was involved in match-fixing or spot-fixing, or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was'.

''Like you, I will be looking for answers.''

Vincent earlier released a statement, saying ''I wish to let everyone know that I am co-operating with an ongoing ICC anti-corruption investigation that has been made public today.

''This investigation is bound by a number of rules and regulations that mean I am unable to make any further public comment,'' Vincent said.

''I will personally talk to the public when I am able to. In the meantime, I cannot comment. Please respect me and my family's privacy until such time.''

Attempts to speak to Tuffey at his home in Sydney were unsuccessful yesterday. Campbell Live reported the programme was told he was in Adelaide.

Yesterday morning Cairns, who was in Dunedin commentating on the first test between New Zealand and the West Indies at the University Oval, said he would not comment when approached by the Otago Daily Times.

He said then it was an ICC matter and he was not prepared to say anything until the investigation ran its course.

Sky Television spokeswoman Kirsty Way confirmed Cairns took himself out of the commentary position shortly after he was named as one of the trio.

She said Cairns wanted to be back in Auckland to be with his family - Sky did not force him to go off-air.

Cairns only recently returned to live in New Zealand, and is in his first season as a cricket commentator with Sky.

Cricket commentator Simon Doull was also approached by the ODT for comment on the issue yesterday morning. Doull said he had been gagged by Sky from discussing the matter.

Ms Way later denied that was the case.

New Zealand Cricket Players' Association chief executive Heath Mills said the incident was not the tip of the iceberg.

''This is a sad day for all of us, but people need to remember that 99.99% of those playing and working in cricket are hard-working, dedicated and honest folk,'' he said.

National sporting organisations, not just cricket, needed to work harder to ''ensure our people are safe when they travel to overseas environments'', Mills said.

The ICC's Anti-corruption and Security Unit is investigating allegations of match-fixing and spot-fixing in matches.

Earlier, New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said he was disappointed but offered little on what the allegations amounted to.

New Zealand Cricket had been aware of the investigation for a number of months and was shocked and surprised by the allegations, Mr White said.

''We support the ICC investigation, as corruption has no place in our sport,'' he said.

No current New Zealand players were being investigated, no games being played in New Zealand were being investigated and no games under the jurisdiction of New Zealand Cricket were being investigated, he said.

He declined to comment on whether the players knew they were being investigated.

He knew who the three players were, but declined to name them, as it was an ICC investigation.

Prime Minister John Key said yesterday it would be ''very, very serious'' if match-fixing allegations against three former New Zealand cricketers were proved true.

''New Zealand is a country that sees itself as a very above-board, honest place both to do business and to play sport so it would be deeply concerning if this was factually correct,'' he told APNZ.

''New Zealanders expect sport to be played fairly and they expect sports men and women to perform - in a way which upholds the ethics of their sport and not to be doing it to make money in an underhand way.

"It would be a very, very serious issue indeed if it is proved to be correct.''

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