Belfast Telegraph

Friday 11 July 2014

Redknapp has 'back to the wall'

Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp arrives at Southwark Crown Court in London, as he stands trial on tax evasion charges (AP)

Jurors hearing Harry Redknapp's tax evasion trial have been warned to "keep their eyes on the ball" when they consider their verdicts.

The prosecution alleged that the Tottenham Hotspur manager was "driven with his back to the wall to lie" when he claimed he gave a sports journalist false information about why over £90,000 was paid into his Monaco bank account.

Redknapp, 64, told London's Southwark Crown Court this week that the money was given to him in 2002 by Milan Mandaric, 73, his former boss at Portsmouth Football Club, as an investment that had nothing to do with his employment.

But prosecutor John Black QC urged the jury in a closing speech to conclude that the sum was in fact a bonus paid to Redknapp arising from Portsmouth's profits on the sale of striker Peter Crouch to Aston Villa. He said tax was "in the nature of the game" in the football industry and Redknapp knew he had to pay it on his income, including any bonuses.

Mr Black told the jury: "You may have little difficulty in concluding that if it was a bonus, no tax was deducted, no tax was paid - and indeed no tax has ever been paid in relation to that bonus as we stand here in 2012."

The trial heard that Redknapp told former News of the World sports reporter Rob Beasley in a taped conversation in 2009 that Mandaric paid the money into his Monaco account as a bonus relating to the sale of Crouch for a £3 million profit.

But in evidence, the manager said he told the journalist the wrong information to prevent a story appearing in the Sunday tabloid as Spurs took on Manchester United in the 2009 League Cup final.

Redknapp told the court "I don't have to tell Mr Beasley the truth. I have to tell police the truth, not Mr Beasley, he's a News of the World reporter."

Mr Black rejected this claim, telling jurors: "Apparently it's all right for Mr Redknapp to lie - 'the difference, I suppose, is I'm on oath here, I wasn't then'. In a way he has no choice if he has to run the investment defence. How is he to explain his interview with Mr Beasley? He's driven with his back to the wall to lie."

Redknapp, of Poole, Dorset, and Mandaric, of Oadby, Leicestershire, deny two counts of cheating the public revenue when Redknapp was manager of Portsmouth Football Club.