New witness will claim he bugged talks with Rooney's former agent

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The Independent Online

Wayne Rooney's agent went to a meeting in his Mercedes with a bag containing £250,000 cash, hoping to pay off an associate of Peter McIntosh, the teenage footballer's previous agent, a court was told yesterday.

Wayne Rooney's agent went to a meeting in his Mercedes with a bag containing £250,000 cash, hoping to pay off an associate of Peter McIntosh, the teenage footballer's previous agent, a court was told yesterday.

Mr McIntosh's associate, John Hyland, 42, of Liverpool, and two brothers, Anthony Bacon, 38, of Prestwich, Greater Manchester, and Christopher Bacon, 34, of Whitefield, in Greater Manchester, all face a single charge of blackmail - making unwarranted demands with menaces. They are all expected to deny the charge.

The trial, due to start yesterday in Warrington Crown Court, was adjourned after a new witness, William Lindfield, came forward as late as Monday morning. Lord Carlile QC, representing Mr Hyland, said Mr Lindfield would testify that he drove Mr Stretford to the meeting in November 2002, during which he stayed in the car to look after the cash.

Mr Lindfield was described as a former member of the army and fire services and now works a security consultant. The court was told he would claim he was employed by Mr Stretford to bug Proactive's own offices before another meeting that Mr Stretford was due to have with Mr Hyland.

Lord Carlile told the judge, His Honour David Hale, that Rooney had signed a two-year contract with Mr McIntosh in December 2000. He said: "It is part of our case that Paul Stretford offered cash to John Hyland [in November 2002, during this period] but the money did not change hands."

However, he said Mr Stretford has denied he owed any money to Mr McIntosh or Mr Hyland: "Paul Stretford has asserted there was absolutely no basis on which he accepted he should pay anything ... in respect of Wayne Rooney's still existing contract."

Lord Carlile said Mr Lindfield's evidence was that he had been hired to drive Paul Stretford to the meeting with Mr Hyland at the Moss Nook restaurant, near Manchester Airport, on 4 November 2002, and Mr Stretford had £250,000 cash with him in a bag. "Paul Stretford said he hoped to use this money as a pay off to John Hyland," Lord Carlile went on: "Mr Lindfield sat in the car looking after the cash throughout the assignation."

Lord Carlile referred to Mr Stretford's witness statement, in which he said he had set up an tape machine to record another meeting with Mr Hyland in Proactive's offices on 25 November 2002. At first, Mr Stretford said, Mr Hyland had been "pleasant", but: "Once inside, Mr Hyland reverted to his angry persona." Mr Stretford's witness statement said he had been "frustrated, scared and apprehensive" during that meeting. He said the meeting "outlasted the tape by a long way", and, afterwards, he could not find a copy of the tape. Lord Carlile said Mr Lindfield would testify he had been hired by Mr Stretford to place covert recording devices in his office and the devices might have recorded a meeting with Mr Hyland. The trial was adjourned to allow Mr Stretford to make a statement about the new evidence.

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