Harry Redknapp turned his fire on the now-defunct tabloid the News of the World yesterday when he said in court that he was justified in lying to one of the newspaper's reporters in order to prevent publication of a potentially damaging story.
Giving evidence for the second day, Redknapp, who faces two charges of tax evasion, said that he had told reporter Rob Beasley that a payment to a Monaco bank account had been a "bonus" in order to get him "off my back" two days before Tottenham were due to play the 2009 Carling Cup final against Manchester United.
Redknapp, 64, has maintained throughout his trial that the two payments to the "Rosie47" bank account in Monaco from his then chairman at Portsmouth, Milan Mandaric, was seed money for an "investment" the multi-millionaire businessman was establishing for him. The Crown submits that they were bonus payments paid offshore in order to avoid tax.
Redknapp was asked by prosecution counsel Mr John Black QC why he had told Beasley in an interview in February 2009 that the payments were a bonus. Asked about his use of the word "bonus", Redknapp said: "I wanted to get Mr Beasley out the way. I had no need to tell him about investments or anything else. I didn't want him to know about the money in my account." Mr Black QC suggested he could have told the truth. Redknapp replied: "I could have done but he was going to write a story that next day on the morning of the cup final. All my players were going to look at the back page of the News of the World at breakfast. It would be embarrassing. He caught me unawares."
There were further allegations from Mr Black QC that Redknapp had changed his story so that it fitted with the explanation from Mandaric that the two payments of £93,000 and £96,000 made between 2002 and 2004 into "Rosie47" were to establish an investment fund.
Redknapp replied sarcastically: "Yeah, let's see if we can try and avoid paying £20,000-£30,000 of tax, it's unbelievable. I have paid £8m of income tax, Milan has paid £100m, so let's see if we can avoid paying £10,000. It is unbelievable. What am I even doing stood here, Mr Black? This was an investment from my chairman that made me $45,000." The case continues.