Harry Redknapp 'told reporter he would sue over bung allegation'


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The Independent Online

Football manager Harry Redknapp angrily denied bungs were paid into his Monaco bank account and threatened to sue a News of the World reporter who confronted him over secret payments after the sale of a player, a court heard yesterday.

The 64-year-old manager threatened to "sue the bollocks" off the newspaper if reporter Rob Beasley ran a story about his tax affairs, according to taped transcripts of a telephone interview read out at his trial yesterday.

Mr Redknapp, who was the manager of Portsmouth at the time of the payments, said the Inland Revenue was fully aware of his dealings. But Southwark Crown Court was told yesterday that even the manager's own accountant was kept in the dark about the existence of his offshore account, into which Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric paid nearly £200,000.

Mr Redknapp and Mr Mandaric, 73, both deny two charges of cheating the public revenue over the payment of £189,000 into the bank account – named Rosie47 after Mr Redknapp's dog and his date of birth – at a Monaco branch of HSBC. The court heard that the Inland Revenue was only told of the payments in October 2008, more than six years after Mr Mandaric transferred the first tranche of some £93,000 into the account.

The prosecution says the payments by Mr Mandaric followed a dispute between the two men over the cut of profits from the sale of England striker Peter Crouch to Aston Villa in 2002. Mr Redknapp, who had just changed the terms of his contract, complained that he was entitled to more money.

"If there was something dodgy, I would have gone over there and brought it [the money] back in a briefcase," he told Mr Beasley, according to the transcripts of the interview in February 2009. He told the reporter the chairman had assured him the tax had been paid in the US.

"How can it be a bung when the chairman of a football club is paying me?" he said. "A bung don't come into it. It's a payment not a bung." He added that a bung was "a fucking sick word", according to the interview.

The court heard that Mr Beasley had interviewed Mr Mandaric two days earlier about the same issue. Mr Mandaric told the reporter the money was for an investment outside of football, the court heard. When asked about Mr Mandaric's account, Mr Redknapp responded: "He don't know what he is fucking talking about. What is he talking about? It is a bonus."

John Black QC, for the prosecution, claimed the two men changed their description of the payments as employment income, investment money, a gift or in "some cases a combination of all and some of them".

When questioned by the police in June 2009, Mr Redknapp denied "fiddling" to avoid paying tax or national insurance. "For that amount, I don't fiddle," he said in his interview with police. "I have been in football all my life. I pay every penny. I was guaranteed by the man who owned the club there was no money to be paid."

He said he had repeatedly told Mr Mandaric that he did not want any trouble with the taxman over the payments.

Mr Redknapp, the current Spurs manager, first revealed details of the account in November 2006 during an interview with the team investigating illicit payments in football, led by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner. The case continues.