Redknapp cleared for England job
Published 09/02/2012 | 05:00
Harry Redknapp began the day facing a prison sentence and ended it as the overwhelming favourite to be the next England football manager after an extraordinary chain of events that saw him cleared of tax evasion charges and Italian Fabio Capello resign as coach of the national side.
The 64-year-old Tottenham boss was cleared at Southwark Crown Court in London after five hours of deliberations by the jury, which returned its verdict to a packed courtroom with reporters and members of the public sitting on the floor because of the premium on space.
Mr Redknapp embraced his co-defendant, Milan Mandaric, his former Portsmouth chairman, who also faced two charges of cheating the public revenue.
Keeping his emotions in check to deliver a statement on the steps of the court 30 minutes later, Mr Redknapp said that the 13-day case had been a "nightmare".
The prosecution had painted him as a "greedy" man who had accepted payments totalling £189,000 (€225,000) from Mr Mandaric into an offshore Monaco bank account in order to avoid tax.
Mr Redknapp's defence counsel, John Kelsey-Fry, pointed out on Monday that, had his client been trying to evade tax then he stood to make just £30,717 (€36,642) more than he would have done had the first so-called off-the-record bonus in 2002 been paid through the books of Portsmouth.
Mr Redknapp paid tribute to his legal team of Mr Kelsey-Fry and solicitor Jane Glass, of BCL Burton Copeland, both of whom he described as "fantastic".
He was supported throughout the case by Spurs, in particular, the club's director Donna Cullen, football administrator Darren Eales and press officer Simon Felstein, who were in court most days.
Mr Redknapp said: "The support I've had from everybody at Tottenham and the support from (chairman) Daniel Levy who, if he ever felt there was a problem when he gave me this job -- this was going on over three years ago -- would never have employed me.
"He knew this case should never have come to court and I have to thank the fans at Tottenham.
"The other night, at the Wigan game, was the most moved I've ever felt. For me, personally, to have them singing my name throughout the game, while all this was going on, will always be special to me and I'll never forget that.
"The most important thing, obviously, is my family, who have been pulled through it the last five years it's been hanging over us.
"I'm looking forward to getting home and seeing my wife, Sandra, and getting away from all of this.
"It really has been a nightmare, I've got to be honest, it's been five years and this case should never have come to court. It was horrendous.
"It was a unanimous decision, the jury were absolutely unanimous there was no case to answer and I'm pleased we can go home and get on with my life."
A telephone call from her son Jamie moments after the verdicts alerted Sandra Redknapp to the news that her husband had been cleared.
Jamie, the Sky pundit and former England footballer who was ever-present during the trial, made the call from the courtroom.
Mrs Redknapp accepted flowers from well-wishers at her home in Dorset yesterday. Despite her absence from the trial, she featured prominently. Mr Redknapp spoke of her terror during a police raid at their home in November 2007 while he was away in Germany.
The manager said his wife had thought he had died in a plane crash when she saw the press cameras flash outside their home.
The pictures of the raid appeared in the Sun newspaper and Mr Redknapp's lawyers said the paper had been tipped off -- a claim denied by the City of London Police.
It can now be reported that the former Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie and Mr Mandaric were both cleared of tax evasion charges related to the former Senegal player Amdy Faye in a trial last year.
The lead investigating officer, Detective Inspector David Manley of the City of London police, was also in court for the verdict yesterday.
It was Det Insp Manley whom Mr Redknapp accused of "staring" at him while he was giving evidence. (© Independent News Service)