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Harry Redknapp: I'm always the target whenever there’s mud to sling

Harry Redknapp told a team investigating alleged transfer "bungs" to Premier League football officials that he was free of corruption and claimed he was victimised because of his Cockney accent and name, a court heard yesterday.

In an impassioned plea in a meeting with investigators in 2006, Mr Redknapp said he was "sick and tired" and claimed there was "nothing in this world on me" that could link him to illegal payments.

"If there's any mud to be thrown I seem to get on the end of it for whatever reason," Mr Redknapp told the team from Quest in November 2006. The investigation by Lord Stevens, the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, was commissioned by the Premier League to investigate claims of illicit payments linked to the sales of players to top flight clubs. "Your people can look but nobody will find anything on me because there's nothing on me," Mr Redknapp told Nigel Layton, managing director of Quest. "I don't care who looks and how hard they look because there's nothing in this world on me."

The 64-year-old, originally from Poplar, east London, said: "A friend said to me 'Harry, I can't believe it's always you, I have dealt with you enough times. Your problem is your name, Harry, and you have a Cockney accent'. People don't know me and I am sick and tired of it."

Mr Redknapp gave his impassioned defence at the end of an interview in which he revealed the existence of an offshore bank account in Monaco for the first time, according to prosecutors. He is standing trial accused of evading tax and national insurance on two payments totalling £189,000 to the offshore account that he set up under the name of his pet bulldog, Rosie. The first tranche was paid in 2002 by the club chairman, Milan Mandaric, after a dispute over profits from the sale of Peter Crouch from Portsmouth to Aston Villa. The second was paid in 2004 as Portsmouth secured a second season in the Premier League. Southwark Crown Court heard that the sum paid into the account was equivalent to an additional gross salary of £333,000.

The money was only declared to the Inland Revenue more than six years after the first payment was made and explanations by the men about why they were made were "contradictory, inconsistent and lacking in credibility", said John Black QC, prosecuting.

He said Mr Mandaric had claimed the money was a loan and sent a letter demanding repayment in a "transparent attempt to create a paper trail" to back up his claims. The court also heard secretly-recorded conversations from 2009 between News of the World reporter Rob Beasley during which he confronted Mr Mandaric and Mr Redknapp about the nature of the accounts.

Mr Redknapp told the reporter it was nonsense that he was trying to avoid £30,000 in tax, claim the transcripts. "Do I need 30 fucking grand?" he asked. "I'll fucking give you 30 grand." Mr Redknapp and Mr Mandaric, 73, deny cheating the public purse. The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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