Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano cleared in spying case related to Barcelona emails

A Catalonia judge said Barcelona's former financial vice-president should no longer formally be under suspicion in the case

Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano has been provisionally cleared of charges that he authorised payments for spying on internal emails during his five-year spell as financial vice-president of Barcelona.

A magistrate sitting in Catalonia today ordered an “interim partial dismissal” of Soriano, who is formally no longer accused of the charge that he helped former Barcelona president Joan Laporta illegally monitor communications. The former Barcelona managing director Joan Oliver has also been partially cleared. Both have been investigated for criminal liability in a case which has run for over a year.

Judge Josep Llopart Majo said that Soriano should no longer formally be under suspicion in the case, and still suffering the stigma which that has brought. Soriano's lawyers had insisted that he had nothing to do with actions undertaken by Oliver and urged the court to dismiss the case. The judge said that Soriano gave “consistent and credible explanations.”

The allegations against Soriano related to claims that he ordered a company called Cyber Experience to install an internal server called Encase Enterprise which, between 2005 and 2008, monitored all internal emails containing certain key words at the Nou Camp.

In bringing the case, a senior prosecutor found that Soriano had signed off invoices to another company, Intelligence Bureau, as well as Cyber Experience, and that meetings were held to keep him and other board members informed of findings. Originally, around 20 computers were monitored in this way with "stopping leaks to the press" being the motivation behind the surveillance. Cyber Experience later recommended covering the whole internal network.

 

But the magistrate today ruled that Soriano had justifiably hired the companies to investigate several significant and concerning developments at the Catalan club: the theft of a computer from Laporta, the subsequent download of a key club database and the publication in the press of confidential information relating to signings and player salaries. The magistrate found that Soriano had spoken to Cyber Experience and a working relationship with them - little of which was formally chronicled - saw the company help Barcelona work to avoid leaks.

There has always been a sense at City that Barcelona were key movers in the case against Soriano, who left the Nou Camp when Laporta’s presidency ended may have been the victim of a dirty tricks campaign emanating from the new regime at the club. Barcelona’s apparent willingness to engage in a dirty tricks seemed to stem from City aiming to capitalise on Soriano’s success at the Nou Camp, and that of sporting director Txiki Begiristain, in order to accelerate City's growth on and off the pitch.

The increasing rivalry between the clubs initially led to claims in Barcelona that City had tried to lure Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets and Pedro Rodríguez away from the Nou Camp - suggestions which have been strenuously denied by sources at the Etihad. Barcelona have a maximum of five days to pursue several means of appeal.

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
News
i100
Sport
Jonny May scores for England
rugby unionEngland 28 Samoa 9: Wing scores twice to help England record their first win in six
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Jerry Hall (Hand out press photograph provided by jackstanley@theambassadors.com)
theatre
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin