Venables says he is vindicated over evidence

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Terry Venables, the former England football coach, said last night he felt completely vindicated by a court ruling yesterday that set aside a previous judgment in which his evidence was castigated by a judge.

Venables's credibility suffered a damaging blow when in a court hearing last December his evidence was described as "rather wanton" and not "entirely reliable to put it at its most charitable".

The comments were made by Mr Recorder Donald Williams as he found against Venables in a case brought by Jeffrey Fugler, a businessman, who was suing Scribes West, Venables's London club, for an unpaid pounds 20,000 bill. Although the sum was reduced to pounds 14,000, and Fugler ordered to pay half of his own costs, Scribes West was faced with a bill for more than pounds 100,000 to cover its own legal costs.

Yesterday, Venables's legal team applied for the case to be retried after obtaining further evidence which related to the original Fugler invoice.

Lawyers representing Fugler at the hearing at Central London County Court, quickly consented to the judgment being set aside and agreed to pay back the pounds 14,000 plus costs.

Venables, who is expected to be announced as the new Australian team coach at a press conference in London today, said the comments had remained at the back of his mind for the past 11 months.

The original judgment and the accompanying comments had been particularly damaging to Venables as he prepared the England team for last summer's Euro 96 tournament.

The judge said some of Venables's evidence "contradicted" both his own version of events in his recently published autobiography and evidence Venables had previously given in connection with the liquidation proceedings involving Scribes West. He also appeared unimpressed with Venables's assertion, made in court, that he had not been able to find an invoice from Fugler.

Venables said last night he had been shocked by the judge's attack at the earlier hearing. He said: "It was the most damaging thing, when a judge goes out of his way to say something like that." He said he still felt he had been the victim of a conspiracy.

"What happened to me was . . . disgraceful. I have been talking about conspiracy and everyone said I was paranoid but this proves there was reason to it and that's only the beginning."