SFO will not hold Venables inquiry

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The Independent Online
The Serious Fraud Office said yesterday that it would not be investigating the business affairs of the England football team coach, Terry Venables, after examining papers passed to it by the Department of Trade and Industry.

The fraud office's director, George Staple, announced after looking at the documents relating to Mr Venables' collapsed Edennote company that an inquiry would not be appropriate.

After the statement Nick Trainer, Mr Venables' solicitor, said the England coach was relieved though unsurprised as he had always been led to believe his affairs would not come under SFO scrutiny.

However, the papers have been passed back to the DTI, which may choose to look at the matter afresh and could disqualify him from holding company directorships if he was found to have acted improperly.

It became clear this week that the fraud office had been handed the results of four separate DTI inquiries into his dealings. The temperature was raised further after the BBC's Panorama programme accused him of failing to tell the truth about the existence of a personal guarantee of more than pounds 1m used to raise a loan to buy his share in Tottenham Hotspur. The programme alleged that Mr Venables attempted to avoid meeting his responsibilities when the written guarantee went missing from the offices of Landhurst Leasing.

Mr Venables has always maintained that he obtained an unsecured loan of pounds 1m and strongly denied that he had provided a guarantee. After the programme he said his signature on the relevant document had been forged. He was given the full backing of the Football Association.

Last night Mr Trainer said: ``The relief from the announcement is that it has been made public, so everyone can see that everything in the press about us being investigated by the SFO is rubbish.''

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