Football's leading lady is arrested in corruption inquiry

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The Independent Online

The investigation into corruption in football has led to two more high-profile arrests, with detectives questioning the Birmingham City directors David Sullivan and Karren Brady.

The officers from the City of London Police's economic crime unit detained the pair on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and false accounting in relation to a transfer deal. A police spokesman, while not identifying either, confirmed that arrests had been made and said the two people – a man aged 59 and a woman of 39 – had been released on bail later. It is understood that Mr Sullivan, Birmingham's multimillionaire co-owner who made his money through pornography, and Ms Brady, the Premier League club's managing director, were the two arrested.

Last month, police raided the club, seizing computer files and documents in what they said was an "ongoing investigation into football corruption". Ms Brady, who is married to a former player, Paul Peschisolido, and has been involved with the club for 15 years, is the most recognised woman in professional football. At the time of the raid, she said that it was "in connection with a third party".

But because both she and Mr Sullivan were involved in the paperwork for the transfer deal that is being examined, thought to be that of Aliou Cissé to Portsmouth for £300,000 in 2004, they have now been arrested.

Seven others – including the Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp, the club's chief executive Peter Storrie, the former owner Milan Mandaric, former player Amdy Faye, now at Glasgow Rangers, and his agent, Willie McKay – remain on bail in connection with the inquiry. They were arrested in November and investigations continue.

Detectives are believed to be focusing on the transfer of Faye, a Senegalese international, from Auxerre to Portsmouth in August 2003, and from Portsmouth to Newcastle in January 2005. Birmingham City said in a statement: "David Sullivan and Karren Brady on behalf of Birmingham City Football Club were invited to co-operate with a City of London Police investigation and have happily done so.

"By long-standing appointment, they have willingly attended interviews today... No charges have been brought. We have been requested by the police not to comment further whilst their inquiry is ongoing."

The key players

Karren Brady became Britain's youngest managing director, aged 23, when she took over at Birmingham City.

Fifteen years later, her portfolio now includes the chairman's post at heavy metal radio station Kerrang! and non-executive directorships at Channel 4, Mothercare and Sport England.

She started her career at advertising company Saatchi & Saatchi straight from school before moving into radio and then newspapers. She met David Sullivan at Sport Newspapers and was a director there at the age of 22.

Brady is married to the former Birmingham footballer Paul Peschisolido, and was named businesswoman of the year in 2007. In a list of influential women last year, she was ranked higher than The Sun's editor Rebekah Wade and the former MI5 director Dame Stella Rimington.

The mother of two had successful surgery to remove a brain tumour last year.

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