Premier League - Redknapp cleared in tax evasion trial

Wed, 08 Feb 11:33:00 2012

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp has been found not guilty of tax evasion.

Harry Redknapp - 0

Redknapp and former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric were both found not guilty on two charges of tax evasion at Southwark Crown Court and hugged each other in the dock when the verdicts were announced.

Redknapp's hopes of leading the England team received a major boost as he walked free from court. Jurors accepted Redknapp's angry denials that he avoided tax on any payments over £189,000 found in a Monaco account.

As he thanked his legal team, his family, Tottenham and the club's supporters, Redknapp said: "It really has been a nightmare, I have to be honest. It has been five years and this is a case that should never have come to court, it's unbelievable really ... now we can go home and get on with it.

"I have to thank the fans, especially, the fans of Tottenham. The other night, the Wigan game, was the most moving I've ever felt for me personally to have them singing my name throughout the game.".

Tottenham said in a club statement: "Everyone at the club is delighted for Harry and his family. This has been hanging over him for four years and the last two weeks have been particularly difficult. We are pleased to see this resolved and we all look forward to the rest of the season."

Premier League : Tottenham

Redknapp's acquittal alongside co-defendant Mandaric blows the final whistle on a five-year £8 million police investigation which failed to yield a single conviction. Mandaric and former Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie were also cleared of £600,000 tax dodge claims at a previous trial, it can be reported for the first time.

Redknapp was at times moved to the verge of tears as the Crown alleged that he told a pack of lies in an attempt to get off the hook.

But jurors accepted Redknapp and Mandaric's evidence that the Monaco account in the name of Redknapp's dog, Rosie, was nothing to do with footballing matters.

Redknapp: It's been a nightmare

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Mandaric said in a statement: "I'm delighted I have been cleared of these totally unfounded allegations of tax evasion. It is clear they should have never have been brought to court.

"I never doubted the truth would prevail nor the fact that the British justice system would come to the right conclusion. I came to Britain 12 years ago because of my love of football and have since saved three much-loved football clubs, which were on the brink of extinction.

"As a result I have saved thousands of jobs and paid tens of millions of pounds into the public purse through tax. To suggest I would cheat the tax man is highly offensive to me, my family, my associates and friends. I'm happy that my good name and reputation have been upheld.

"And I wish to express my gratitude to my many football fans, friends and family for all their support. They have been a great source of strength to me."

The two-week trial at London's Southwark Crown Court threatened to derail Redknapp's progress at the pinnacle of his 30-year managerial career.

Having led Spurs through their most successful period in the Premier League era, the Londoner was tipped as the outstanding favourite to replace Fabio Capello as England manager this summer. With his name cleared in the courts, nothing would now appear to stand in the way for the Football Association to hire him.

The verdicts mark an unsuccessful end to an exhaustive inquiry into football corruption by tax authorities and City of London Police. Police began pursuing Redknapp in 2006 after he admitted having the Monaco account as he was questioned by the Quest inquiry into Premier League bungs.

The transactions took place as the pair squabbled over a transfer bonus Redknapp was due for the £3 million profit the club made on the sale of England striker Peter Crouch. But the jury accepted Redknapp's claim that he knew he was "morally but not legally" entitled to the cash.

A recorded telephone conversation between News of the World reporter Rob Beasley and the pair in 2009 was a pivotal element in the Crown's case. Redknapp telling Mr Beasley it was money for transfer bonuses was "the most compelling and important evidence", prosecutor John Black QC said.

But defence barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC said the Sunday tabloid's evidence was "primarily despicable". "I do not shrink from suggesting to you it is repugnant to all our basic instincts of fairness in the criminal justice process," he said.

"We've no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before the jury for their consideration," said Chris Martin, assistant director of Criminal Investigations at HM Revenue and Customs.

"We accept the verdict of the jury but I would like to remind those who are evading tax by using off-shore tax havens that it always makes sense to come forward and talk to us before we come to talk to you."

PA Sport / Eurosport

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