Backhander claims 'were made up to get Venables'

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An advertising executive who claims that Terry Venables, the England football manager, appeared to be behind bogus invoices was accused in court yesterday of lying.

Jeff Fugler was also accused of business malpractice and using "unwarranted assertions" which were broadcast on television. Mr Fugler denied the claims and rejected suggestions he had tried to "gild the lily" to help him in a legal action against Mr Venables over an allegedly unpaid advertising bill.

The 43-year-old company head is suing a nightclub owned by Mr Venables for pounds 19,379, which is said to have been incurred during a campaign to promote the London nightspot Scribes West. The former Tottenham manager is counter-suing for a similar amount.

During his evidence, Mr Fugler was asked about claims he had made in a sworn witness statement submitted to Central London County Court.

In it, he insisted Mr Venables appeared to be behind bogus invoices to cover a pounds 50,000 cash payment during the transfer of Tottenham striker Teddy Sheringham in August 1992.

In addition, the advertising head alleged he overheard Mr Venables' business partner Eddie Ashby receive a phone call from the football manager insisting he pay David Webb, then manager of Southend United, more than pounds 20,000 for marketing services.

In his statement, he said he understood Mr Webb's marketing consultancy firm was connected with the earlier sale of two players by Southend United to Spurs.

Mr Fugler also asserted in his affidavit that Mr Venables tried to cheat Spurs by telling him to overcharge them so the Scribes marketing bill could be off-set.

Pointing out that the allegations appeared in a statement connected with the current court action but not in an earlier sworn account concerning the "winding up" of Mr Venables's nightclub, Michael Jefferis, for Scribes West, told Mr Fugler: "What you have done here is to add to it and gild the lily. You have added bits that are simply not true to tighten up your story."

Regarding the discussion he claimed to have overheard about the payment to Mr Webb, the barrister said: "That is simply not true. It is your invention. You have heard about various unwarranted assertions on television. You have put it together to damage the credibility of Mr Ashby and Mr Venables."

In further exchanges, Mr Jefferis referred to another claim by Mr Fugler that Mr Ashby had shown him an invoice from Silver Rose Lingerie which he said was used to cover the pounds 50,000 backhander paid to Mr Venables' business partner over Sheringham's pounds 2.1m transfer.

Mr Jefferis said: "You are suggesting an invoice from Silver Rose Lingerie was used to try and defraud. It is just the sort of invoice that anybody is going to pick up. It is absurd."

Responding to Mr Fugler's claims that he had not been paid for work carried out for Mr Venables, Mr Jefferis said: "I put it to you that that is a fabrication. You put it purely to damage the reputation of Mr Ashby and Mr Venables."

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