Harry Redknapp turned his fire on the now-defunct tabloid the News of the World yesterday when he said in court that he was justified in lying to one of the newspaper's reporters in order to prevent publication of a potentially damaging story.
Giving evidence for the second day, Redknapp, who faces two charges of tax evasion, said that he had told News of the World reporter Rob Beasley that a payment to a Monaco bank account had been a "bonus" in order to get him "off my back" two days before Tottenham were due to play the 2009 Carling Cup final against Manchester United.
Redknapp, 64, has maintained throughout his trial that the two payments to the "Rosie47" bank account in Monaco from his then chairman at Portsmouth Milan Mandaric was seed money for an "investment" the multi-millionaire businessman was establishing for him. The Crown submits that they were bonus payments paid offshore in order to avoid tax.
Redknapp was asked by prosecution counsel Mr John Black QC why he had told Beasley in an interview in February 2009 that the payments were a bonus. The recording of the interview by Beasley, who gave evidence earlier in the trial, had been obtained by City of London police via a production order.
Asked about his use of the word "bonus", Redknapp said: "I wanted to get Mr Beasley out the way. I had no need to tell him about investments or anything else. I didn't want him to know about the money in my account." Mr Black QC suggested he could have told the truth. Redknapp replied: "I could have done but he was going to write a story that next day on the morning of the cup final. All my players were going to look at the back page of the News of the World at breakfast. It would be embarrassing. He caught me unawares."
Redknapp said that Beasley was "lying" to him and had not told him the conversation was being recorded. "It [his explanation about the bonus] was not true, absolutely not. I don't have to tell Mr Beasley the truth. I have to tell the police the truth. Not Mr Beasley, he's a News of the World reporter."
In a heated exchange with the prosecution, Redknapp was accused by Mr Black QC of telling "a pack of lies".
Redknapp responded: "Do you think I would put my hand on the Holy Bible and tell lies? That is an insult Mr Black, I have told you no lies, I may have told Rob Beasley but he was a liar who worked for the News of the World. I put my hand on the Holy Bible and told you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me God."
There were further allegations from Mr Black QC that Redknapp had changed his story so that it fitted with the explanation from Mandaric that the two payments of £93,000 and £96,000 made between 2002 and 2004 into "Rosie47" were to establish an investment fund. Both men face two charges of cheating the public revenue.
Redknapp replied sarcastically: "Yeah, let's see if we can try and avoid paying £20,000-£30,000 of tax, it's unbelievable. I have paid £8m of income tax, Milan has paid £100m, so let's see if we can avoid paying £10,000. It is unbelievable. What am I even doing stood here, Mr Black? This was an investment from my chairman that made me $45,000."
It was an exacting cross-examination and when Redknapp finally returned to the dock at Southwark Crown Court, Mandaric gripped his shoulder and ruffled his hair. Yet there were also many light-hearted moments, especially when Redknapp returned to the subject of his late-lamented bulldog Rosie after whom the Monaco account was named.
Mr Black QC asked him why he had added the "47" – the year of his birth – to his account's name. "There was already a 'Rosie'," Redknapp explained. When Mr Black QC suggested it might have been named after someone else's dog, Redknapp replied: "It could have been someone else's wife." He added: "If she was half as nice as Rosie he would have a good wife."
He also recounted his failed attempts at share trading, including one investment that had also "wiped out" his son Jamie as well as his then-Portsmouth staff Kevin Bond, Jim Smith and "Kevin the kitman". Redknapp said: "I had never heard of shares until one day I was playing golf and this friend of mine told me to get into Firecrest, 'They will be really good'," he said. "Well, Firecrest went off like a firework, it was a damp squib."
The prosecution also mistakenly said in evidence that Redknapp's playing career had included a stint at Milan. "Unfortunately not," Redknapp said. "But I think I could manage them now that [Jose] Mourinho is gone [from Internazionale]." At one point the mobile phone of a Spurs supporter in the public gallery went off playing the tune to the club's "Glory, glory Tottenham Hotspur" anthem.
Watched by Bond and Tim Sherwood, the former Spurs and England player who is now on the staff at the club, Redknapp pointed out more than once that he had disclosed the account voluntarily to Quest investigators in 2006. "They interviewed quite a few Premier League managers and quite a few wouldn't give details. I did. This is how the account came to light."
Later, the former Arsenal goalkeeper and broadcaster Bob Wilson gave evidence on Redknapp's behalf, telling the jury how the Spurs manager had made numerous appearances and granted requests for Wilson's charity the Willow foundation, established in memory of his late daughter Anna.
The judge Anthony Leonard QC told the jury that the prosecution's closing speech will begin at 11.30am today. The defence closing speeches will follow on Monday and the summing up by Mr Leonard QC will be on Tuesday. Both men deny the charges. The case continues.