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Brendon McCullum berates 'casual' ICC anti-corruption unit approach

Brendon McCullum berates the casual approach of ICC anti-corruption unit
Brendon McCullum (left) said ICC should have handled Chris Cairns' (right) perjury trial in a professional manner.
©REUTERS / Action Images

Former New Zealand skipper Brendon McCullum has criticised the "casual" approach of the anti-corruption unit (ACU) of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in his MCC Spirit of Cricket lecture at Lord’s on Monday.

McCullum appeared at the Southwark Crown Court during the Chris Cairns perjury trial to give evidence against his "former hero" regarding an approach made to influence the outcome of the matches.

After the nine-week trial, Cairns was effectively cleared of any involvement in match-fixing after the jury were unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

While McCullum admitted that he was supposed to report Cairns immediately when the initial approach was made, he emphasised that he stands by the evidence he gave in the Southwark Crown Court.

"At the outset, I think it is appropriate, standing here at the ‘Home of Cricket’, to confirm that I stand by everything said in my statements and the evidence I gave at the Southwark Crown Court," he said.

"I unreservedly accept that I should have reported the approaches at the time that Cairns made them; but it was a dreadful situation to be in."

McCullum then revealed how he subsequently reported Cairns to a representative of the ACU, John Rhodes, who told him that not reporting the incident would make him as guilty as the person who made the approach.

However, McCullum admitted that he was taken by surprise at the casual approach of the ACU when they were gathering evidence over a corrupt approach made by a former international star.

"Rhodes took notes - he did not record our conversation.

"He said he would get what I said down on paper and that it would probably end up at the bottom of the file with nothing eventuating.

"Looking back on this, I am very surprised by what I perceive to be a very casual approach to gathering evidence.

"I was reporting two approaches by a former international star of the game.

"I was not asked to elaborate on anything I said and I signed a statement that was essentially nothing more than a skeleton outline."

The 34-year-old went on to give a total of three statements prior to the perjury trial in 2015 and he compared the ACU’s initial approach to the way in which the Metropolitan Police recorded his statement.

"Needless to say, by the time I sat in the witness box in London in October 2015, I had made three statements in relation to the issues.

"The second statement was requested by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit much later on - a clear indication that my first statement was inadequate - but how on earth could I have known that.

"As a player I had reported an approach - and it was recorded sparsely by the person I reported to.

"My third statement was requested by the Metropolitan Police - later still - and, suffice to say, they were streets ahead in terms of professionalism.

"They asked me so many questions, testing my memory, and took a much more comprehensive brief."

Stating that there was no way of knowing that his statement would be used in the perjury trial in 2015, McCullum felt that the ACU’s approach should have been more professional.

"In fairness to Rhodes, I don’t think either of us could ever have foreseen that my first statement would be used in a perjury trial in London four years after it was made.

"But the point I wish to make is that it must have been feasible that I would have to give evidence somewhere, sometime.

"I think players deserve better from the ICC and that, in the future, the evidence-gathering exercise has to be much more thorough, more professional.

"In my opinion, a person taking a statement should ensure that the witness is advised about what may occur - that if evidence were to be given in the future and the witness did not put everything in that initial statement or changed what they said in any way, then this would likely impact on their credibility.

"When I made my first statement to the ICC, my impression was that it would be put in the bottom draw and never see the light of day again.

"No attempt was made to elicit a full and comprehensive statement from me on that occasion."

Furthermore, McCullum added that he felt morally obliged to tell the truth at Cairns’ perjury trial and wished that the ICC had handled his initial approach in a better way.

"I had no legal obligation to turn up in London and give evidence against Cairns.

"Living in New Zealand, I could not have been compelled to give evidence and, frankly, I would much rather have stayed at home.

"But I believe I had a moral obligation to tell the truth - and I believe that the interests of the game of cricket and common decency demanded my attendance.

"But I do wish that the ICC had handled my initial approach more professionally for the reasons I have given."

After his testimony to the ICC was leaked in 2014, McCullum hopes that no other player who reports a corrupt approach should go through what he went in the aftermath of the leak.

McCullum urged the players to report any corrupt approach made to them immediately but also stressed that it was important for the ICC to instil confidence in the players by adopting a professional approach.

"In conclusion, none of what I have said changes my view that all players must report any approaches.

"It is a fundamental responsibility that we all share for the greater good of the game.

"But it is equally vital that players who do report are treated professionally and that their report is kept confidential.

"Unless players can have confidence in the authorities and their processes, then I am sorry to say that the game will be the loser."

McCullum is the second New Zealand cricketer to deliver the annual MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture after the late former New Zealand captain Martin Crowe.

© Cricket World 2016