Harry Redknapp found not guilty in tax evasion trial

 

Harry Redknapp was cleared today of taking bungs in an offshore tax dodge.

Bookmakers immediately slashed the odds on the Tottenham manager becoming the next England boss as a five-year long "nightmare" ended for the one of football's biggest names.

Jurors accepted Redknapp's angry denials that he avoided tax on any payments over £189,000 found in a Monaco account.

His acquittal alongside co-defendant Milan Mandaric blows the final whistle on an £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 charges at a previous trial, it can be reported for the first time.

Redknapp and Mandaric hugged as the jury cleared them on all counts.

Outside London's Southwark Crown Court, Redknapp, flanked by son his Jamie, said: "It really has been a nightmare, I've got to be honest.

"It's been five years and this is a case that should never have come to court because it's unbelievable really.

"It was horrendous you know but it was a unanimous decision. The jury were absolutely unanimous that there was no case to answer."

Redknapp paid tribute to his family, his legal team and Tottenham officials. And he said he would "never forget" the backing of the Spurs fans.

Former Liverpool star Jamie Redknapp, who stood by his father throughout the trial, said: "Just glad it is all over."

Mandaric told reporters: "I've got to go somewhere to try to pinch myself and wake me up from that horrible dream that I had in the past.

"As we said in the statements, I always believed in the truth, and always believed in the British justice system."

Redknapp was at times moved to the verge of tears in court as the Crown alleged he told a pack of lies 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.

The verdicts mark a disastrous end of an exhaustive inquiry into football corruption by the tax authorities and City of London Police.

The case served up high courtroom drama over two weeks as Redknapp appeared in the dock and gave an impassioned display in the witness box.

He accused Detective Inspector Dave Manley of "staring" and shouted at prosecutor John Black QC: "You think I put my hand on the Bible and told lies? That's an insult, Mr Black, that's an insult."

Redknapp said he was "a fantastic football manager, not a hard-headed businessman" and had always paid too much tax.

He also revealed that he had squandered millions in bad investments and had the writing ability of a two-year-old.

Serbian Mandaric, an entrepreneur behind a multibillion-dollar business empire, claimed he had paid £100 million in taxes during his time in football, adding: "Did I suddenly go crazy?"

Mandaric and Redknapp embraced in the dock as the verdicts were read out after five hours of deliberations.

Redknapp immediately left the court, while Mandaric walked up to DI Manley to shake his hand and say "Thank you".

Judge Anthony Leonard made no comment other than to discharge the jury.

DI Manley made no comment other than saying: "I accept the court's decision".

Chris Martin, of HM Revenue and Customs, said in a statement: "We have no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before a jury for their consideration.

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

A Tottenham spokesman said: "Everyone at the club is delighted for Harry and his family.

"This has been hanging over him for over 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."

More to follow...

Milan Mandaric tried and acquitted in separate tax trial it is revealed

*

Tax slurs ruined my career says former Portsmouth chief

*

'Staring' police officer faced News of the World leak allegations

*

In quotes: What Harry Redknapp told the jury

PA

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