Harry Redknapp and Mandaric Cleared

  • Last Updated: February 8 2012, 21:10 GMT

Harry Redknapp was cleared on Wednesday of taking bungs in an offshore tax dodge.

Harry Redknapp: Cleared of all charges of tax evasion

The Tottenham boss' hopes of managing the England team received a major boost as he walked free from court.

Jurors accepted Redknapp's angry denials that he avoided tax on any payments over £189,000 found in a Monaco account.

His acquittal alongside co-defendant Milan Mandaric blows the final whistle on a five-year £8million police investigation which failed to yield a single conviction.

Mandaric and former Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie were also cleared of £600,000 tax dodge claims at a previous trial, it can be reported for the first time.

Redknapp and Mandaric hugged as the jury cleared them of all counts.

Redknapp was at times moved to the verge of tears as the Crown alleged that he told a pack of lies in an attempt to get off the hook.

But jurors accepted Redknapp and Mandaric's evidence that the Monaco account in the name of Redknapp's dog, Rosie, was nothing to do with footballing matters.

The two-week trial at London's Southwark Crown Court threatened to derail Redknapp's progress at the pinnacle of his 30-year managerial career.

Having led Spurs through their most successful period in the Premier League era, the Londoner has been tipped as the outstanding favourite to replace Fabio Capello as England manager.

With his name cleared in the courts, nothing would now appear to stand in the way for the Football Association to hire him.

The verdicts mark a disastrous end of an exhaustive inquiry into football corruption by tax authorities and City of London Police.

Police began pursuing Redknapp in 2006 after he admitted having the Monaco account as he was questioned by the Quest inquiry into Premier League bungs.

The transactions took place as the pair squabbled over a transfer bonus Redknapp was due for the £3 million profit the club made on the sale of England striker Peter Crouch.

But the jury accepted Redknapp's claim that he knew he was "morally but not legally" entitled to the cash.

A recorded telephone conversation between News of the World reporter Rob Beasley and the pair in 2009 was a pivotal element in the Crown's case.

Redknapp telling Mr Beasley it was money for transfer bonuses was "the most compelling and important evidence", prosecutor John Black QC said.

But defence barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC said the Sunday tabloid's evidence was "primarily despicable".

"I do not shrink from suggesting to you it is repugnant to all our basic instincts of fairness in the criminal justice process," he said.

The case served up high courtroom drama over two weeks as one of the biggest names in English football appeared in the dock and gave an impassioned display in the witness box.

Redknapp attacked a detective for "staring" and shouted at prosecutor Mr Black: "You think I put my hand on the bible and told lies? That's an insult, Mr Black, that's an insult."

Redknapp said he was "a fantastic football manager, not a hard-headed businessman" and had always paid too much taxes.

He also revealed that he had squandered millions in bad investments and had the writing ability of a two-year-old.

Serbian Mandaric, an entrepreneur behind a multibillion-dollar business empire, claimed he had paid £100 million in taxes during his time in football, adding: "Did I suddenly go crazy?"

Redknapp, of Poole, Dorset, first flew out to Monaco - a tax haven - in April 2002 to set up the account.

He did not tell investigators about Rosie 47 as tax officials investigated a £300,000 payment he received over Rio Ferdinand's record-breaking transfer between West Ham United and Leeds.

But he voluntarily gave details of the Monaco account as he was questioned by the Quest inquiry.

Mandaric and Redknapp embraced in the dock as the verdicts were read out after five hours of deliberations.

Redknapp immediately left the court, while Mandaric walked up to Detective Inspector Dave Manley to shake his hand and say "Thank you".

Judge Anthony Leonard made no comment other than to discharge the jury.

Redknapp's son Jamie greeted his father with a hug outside court. Mandaric's daughters were also sitting in the public gallery.

Mr Manley - who was shouted at by Redknapp during proceedings - made no comment other than saying: "I accept the court's decision".

Chris Martin, of HM Revenue and Customs, said in a statement: "We have no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before a jury for their consideration.

"We accept the verdict of the jury but I would like to remind those who are evading tax by using offshore tax havens that it always makes sense to come forward and talk to us before we come to talk to you."

Mandaric told reporters outside court: "I would rather not talk much now, and I'm quite sure you understand that.

"I've got to go somewhere to try to pinch myself and wake me up from that horrible dream that I had in the past.

"As we said in the statements, I always believed in the truth, and always believed in the British justice system."

Tottenham issued a statement in response to Redknapp being cleared of all charges.

A club spokesman said: "Everyone at the club is delighted for Harry and his family.

"This has been hanging over him for over four years and the last two weeks have been particularly difficult.

"We are pleased to see this resolved and we all look forward to the rest of the season."

Sheffield Wednesday chairman Mandaric issued a statement on the club's official website which read: "I am delighted I have today been cleared of these totally unfounded allegations of tax evasion. It is clear they should have never have been brought to court.

"I never doubted the truth would prevail nor the fact that the British justice system would come to the right conclusion.

"I came to Britain 12 years ago because of my love of football and have since saved three much loved football clubs which were on the brink of extinction.

"As a result I have saved thousands of jobs and paid tens of millions of pounds into the public purse through tax.

"To suggest I would cheat the tax man is highly offensive to me, my family, my associates and friends.

"I am happy that my good name and reputation have been upheld.

"And I wish to express my gratitude to my many football fans, friends and family for all their support. They have been a great source of strength to me."

Redknapp said outside court: "It really has been a nightmare, I've got to be honest. It's been five years and this is a case that should never have come to court because it's unbelievable really.

"It was horrendous you know but it was a unanimous decision. The jury were absolutely unanimous that there was no case to answer.

"I'm pleased now we can go home and get on with our lives."

Redknapp paid tribute to his family, legal team, Tottenham officials and supporters.

He said he would "never forget" the backing of the Spurs fans.