Thursday 18 January 2018

Video: Harry Redknapp tax evasion trial: BBC get jury verdict wrong

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp delivers a statement to media outside Southwark Crown Court. Photo: AP
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp delivers a statement to media outside Southwark Crown Court. Photo: AP
Harry Redknapp arrives with son Jamie. Photo: PA
Milan Mandaric. Photo: PA

THE BBC has been left red-faced by a court reporting error after the corporation broadcast the wrong verdict from the Harry Redknapp trial.

The public broadcaster’s flagship News 24 channel told viewers that the Tottenham Hotspur manager had been found guilty of one count of tax evasion.

But the jury at Southwark Crown Court had in fact found him not guilty of two counts of cheating the public revenue after a 13-day trial in which he was accused of evading around £80,000 (€95,563) of tax on a “transfer bung” of £187,000.

The jury rejected the allegations, allowing Redknapp to leave court a free man four and-a-half years after he was first arrested by police following a dawn raid on his Devon home.

Milan Mandaric, the former chairman of Portsmouth, who was charged alongside Redknapp, was found not guilty on similar charges. Redknapp and Mandaric had both denied the charges.

But on Wednesday morning as it tried to report the jury’s verdicts first, the news channel broadcast the wrong details.

Standing outside court James Pearce, the BBC’s sports news correspondent, claimed that Redknapp, 64, had been found guilty of a second charge. He correctly posted the verdicts on Twitter.

Although it is understood that the BBC crew will not face any action, the blunder will be viewed as particularly embarrassing from such a high profile trial. The BBC apologised for the “confusion”.

It comes after several media organisations wrongly reported the verdicts in the high profile Amanda Knox case.

After broadcasting live for at least 30 seconds that the pair were guilty of a second charge, Pearce, who was clearly struggle to comprehend the details he had been given, was told of the error by a colleague off camera.

He told viewers: “I am sorry, I was going to say … I am sorry I am going to correct this because we have confusion here and that makes much more sense.

“They have been cleared of all charges. We have got some wrong information that has come through here.

“A clarification, they have been found not guilty of all charges. I was getting very confused when I was speaking then. It was unlikely that they could be found not guilty of the first charge and guilty of the second charge."

He added: “That is now confirmed, they have been found not guilty of all charges.”

A “ticker” graphic was also broadcast claiming the jury had found them guilty. It was then followed by another graphic that read: "NOT TRIAL". Another error was made when a graphic read that the jury had “returned it’s (sic) verdict”.

Users on Twitter were quick to point out the errors.

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