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Victory for cricketer Chris Cairns in Twitter libel case

The former chairman and commissioner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) Lalit Modi could be regretting that he did not seek advice on social media strategy in 2010.

Mr Modi has been successfully sued for defamation by New Zealand cricketer Chris Cairns for defamatory remarks he made on Twitter.

He labelled Mr Cairns as a cheat and accused him of match fixing in a Tweet on January 5 2010:

"Chris Cairns removed from the IPL auction list due to his past record in match fixing. This was done by the Governing Council today."

Mr Modi could not prove this statement was true therefore Justice David Bean of the British High Court sided with Mr Cairns.

"In my judgment Mr Modi has singularly failed to provide any reliable evidence that Mr Cairns was involved in match fixing or spot fixing, or even that there were strong grounds for suspicion that he was," Mr Bean said in his judgment report.

The outcome of this case is a reminder of the powerful viral effect that social networking sites can have – and highlights the consequences of submitting a controversial, unsupported opinion to the world.

"I think Twitter makes a big difference because the whole point about Twitter is it goes round and that's the danger, particularly when it's a professional sportsman," Mr Cairns' solicitor Rhory Robertson said to the Telegraph outside court.

Mr Modi was once hailed as one of the most influential men in cricket so his comments on the social media site put Mr Cairns' name and reputation into question. 

"It is obvious that an allegation that a professional cricketer is match fixer goes to the core attributes of his personality and, if true, entirely destroys his reputation for integrity," Mr Bean said.

Mr Cairns has been awarded $137,000 in damages. Mr Modi has released a statement that he intends to appeal the decision.

This is thought to be the first Twitter libel case to be won in Britain.