Harry Redknapp yesterday turned angrily on a detective whom he accused of "staring" him down in court after describing his wife Sandra's terror at a police raid on their home, on the eighth day of his trial for tax evasion.
The Tottenham Hotspur manager interrupted his evidence to turn on Detective Inspector David Manley of the City of London Police, who was sitting on the prosecution benches at Southwark Crown Court. Having finished answering questions from his own counsel, John Kelsey-Fry QC, Redknapp addressed the detective directly: "Mr Manley, will you stop trying to stare at me? I know you are trying to cause me a problem."
At times Redknapp made the jury laugh when recalling his defence of a 21-year-old Peter Crouch in 2002 to his then chairman at Portsmouth, Milan Mandaric, who is co-defendant in the trial. "I said to Milan: 'He's a good investment, he is improving, he's getting stronger, he's getting taller.' We took him." But Redknapp also proved volatile under cross-examination from the prosecution counsel, John Black QC.
The Tottenham manager was taking the stand for the first time after Mandaric, who also faces two counts of cheating the public revenue, had given evidence over three days. Redknapp told the court that he believed he had a "moral" claim on the bonus for the sale of Crouch that is central to the prosecution case, but that he was not "greedy". "I have never been greedy in my life," he said.
Redknapp was asked by Kelsey-Fry about a raid on his home in Poole, Dorset, on 27 November 2007 on a matter unconnected with this trial. The 6am raid, part of the City of London's Operation Apprentice, took place when Redknapp was on a trip to Germany. He said that the police had been accompanied by photographers from The Sun and that his wife Sandra had been "absolutely terrified".
He told the court: "My wife was in a terrible state. She jammed the alarm on. She thought there were burglars and she was hysterical. Eventually she opened the gates and the police came in with photographers. My wife thought I had been killed in a plane crash. I was coming back from Stuttgart that night."
At the invitation of Kelsey-Fry, Redknapp also explained why he signed a fax sent in 2003 that authorised the transfer of funds from the Monaco account "Rosie47" that is also central to the prosecution's case against him. He had claimed in police interviews that the account had been "dead" to him during that time and he had noknowledge of its contents. The fax was sent from the Mottram Hall hotel in Cheshire, where Redknapp was staying with his Portsmouth team in January 2003 ahead of a game at Old Trafford against Manchester United. "We were playing United in a massive game for Portsmouth," Redknapp said. "I was probably thinking about marking David Beckham when I was signing that form."
The two payments of £93,000 and £96,000 that were paid into the "Rosie47" account between 2002 and 2004 are crucial to the prosecution, which submits that they were off-the-record payments from Mandaric to Redknapp to supplement a bonus payable to Redknapp for the £4.5m sale of Crouch by Portsmouth to Aston Villa in March 2002. Redknapp was also asked by Kelsey-Fry whether the prosecution's submission that he was a "hard-headed businessman" was correct. "I am a fantastic manager not a hard-headed businessman," he said. "I have no business sense whatsoever."
Later he was accused during cross-examination of an inconsistency in his evidence over the balance of the "Rosie47" account. Black put it to Redknapp that in an interview in November 2006 with investigator Nigel Layton, who was working for Quest as part of the Premier League's corruption inquiry, he had estimated the account's balance at £120,000. Redknapp earlier claimed he had not known the balance in the account until it was closed in January 2008. In a robust exchange between the pair, Mr Black QC asked Redknapp why he had mentioned the £120,000 figure in the 2006 Quest interview. "I can't remember where I got it from," Redknapp said. "I don't know really. But it wasn't the correct figure, anyway. I said, 'I think it was £120,000'."
Black then asked Redknapp if he had "dreamt it up on the spot". Growing angry with the prosecution counsel, Redknapp said that the fact that he had disclosed the account to Quest investigators voluntarily proved that he had nothing to hide. He and Mandaric claim that the account was set up in order that Mandaric could invest on behalf of Redknapp.
Redknapp told the court: "Do you think I'm silly enough if I got a month's notice, [I would have] closed the account if I thought there was something wrong with the account. If there's something wrong, why would I go and tell Quest? If he [Mandaric] said, 'I'm going to put £120,000 in there', I don't remember him telling me but there is every chance he did."
Questioned on why he referred to the account as his "bonus", Redknapp said: "I may have used the word bonus, in my mind it was a bonus for Crouch. Mr Black, you have said it was the bonus for staying at the club, for the United match and now it is for Crouch, so we don't really know where you are going." Black responded: "Don't worry, Mr Redknapp, I know where I am going, I assure you of that." Both men deny the charges. The case continues.Reuse content