Belfast Telegraph

Packed courthouse as prosecution sets out to put Redknapp on the defensive

By Paul Peachey

As a successful and popular manager of a string of football clubs, Harry Redknapp has become well-accustomed to full houses – though courtroom six at Southwark Crown Court on the banks of the river Thames is probably not what he would have had in mind.

Before it even started there was a change of courtroom to accommodate the people queuing for seats. It was an all-seat affair – a couple of members of the public who attempted to stand at the back were gently ushered out.

There was even a very light sprinkling of football celebrity. Mr Redknapp was joined in court by his son, the former footballer turned pundit Jamie, and other supporters.

But the judge made it plain to prospective jurors that this was a very different occasion than a top flight match. "Let me make it clear, this case is about tax fraud, not football," said Anthony Leonard QC.

As the jurors were selected, they were told that anyone with strong prejudices against the two defendants or their clubs, should have a word with him before they took their place. "Football for some can be of such importance that it overwhelms almost any other aspect of life," the judge pointed out.

Seated behind the bullet-proof glass that surrounded the dock, Mr Redknapp sat quietly throughout yesterday's hearing reading through a copy of the speech by the prosecution.

As John Black QC laid out his case yesterday, he spoke of Mr Redknapp's success as a manager and he was credited with bringing success to Portsmouth, whom he led to the Premier League.

"He is currently enjoying what can be described as footballing success as manager of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club," he said.

He then alluded to his side's defeat against Manchester City on Sunday. "They are currently riding high and today are placed third in the Premiership even after yesterday's disappointment."

Mr Redknapp, sitting next to his co-defendant Milan Mandaric, smiled a little ruefully.

Belfast Telegraph

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