Storrie: I was cleared but no-one could know

Peter Storrie
Peter Storrie

Lab scandal retests ‘progressing well’ say police

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Peter Storrie has blasted the court case that he believes ruined his reputation.

Today the former Pompey chief executive was able to speak out as a court order preventing publication of his acquittal on tax evasion charges was lifted at the end of the trial of Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric.

Storrie voiced his anger at the decision to prosecute him as part of a major investigation into transfers at Portsmouth FC – and he told of his hours in a cell after police swooped.

‘They raided my home, not that there was anything there for them to raid’ he said. ‘I don’t even have an office at home so there wasn’t exactly anything there.

‘It was quite civil, I got the impression they really didn’t want to be involved in it to be honest.

‘I was taken to Chichester police station and went through all the rigmarole of having my photograph done, DNA, fingerprints, the whole process.

‘Then basically I was put into a police cell for 10 hours. It’s an experience that nobody should have.

‘I was in a cell with a small toilet and a bench with a cushion on it. They had taken away my shoes and belt. I sat in that cell and it was the first time I had actually ever read OK magazine. You had to read something, it was a long, long time.

‘Harry was eventually put into the cell next to me. When I left that police station at around 9pm, never did I dream in 100 years that it would end up in the crown court.’

But subsequently Storrie found himself being charged in the joint operation between HMRC and the City of London police.

He was cleared of two charges of tax evasion back on October 20 last year.

However, the judge ruled that in the interests of not prejudicing the trial of Mandaric and Redknapp, that verdict could not be reported until the end of their trial.

The lifting of that order publically brings a close to an investigation which initially began more then four years ago when Storrie’s Hayling Island home was raided by police.

But the 59-year-old told The News he fears the stain on his character can never be removed.

He said: ‘The damage can never, ever be repaired.

‘That is why in many ways I am delighted - but I am not satisfied.

‘What they have done to my reputation, there is nothing you can do to get that back.

‘The verdict will never, ever make up for the four years my name has been rubbished.

‘They should never have taken this case to court in the first place.

‘What I think will have to be looked at is the cost it has been to the taxpayer, which has been millions and millions and millions of pounds. Millions completely wasted.

‘At a time when the government is trying to cut down on public expenditure, here is a massive waste of money.

‘I don’t know the cost exactly, but I have been told it is between £8-12m for the whole thing.

‘The case was nonsense. We said that from day one and it is wonderful that everyone can now know that.’

The first charge of tax evasion against Mr Storrie was made in October 2009.

It related to the 2003 transfer of Amdy Faye from Auxerre to Pompey when it was alleged a £250,000 payment was made to Faye’s agent Willie McKay.

A second charge was added in May 2010 relating to a payment for former Pompey midfielder Eyal Berkovic into an off-shore account.

HRMC claimed it was an attempt to avoid a tax bill, with Mr Mandaric charged with the same offence.

Yet it took just three hours for the jury to find the pair not guilty back in October last year.

Mr Storrie added: ‘The first tax evasion charge was about a fee paid to an agent.

‘But what has it got to do with us what he does with his money?

‘It’s like paying a fee to a football club and then we then have to know exactly what they are doing with the money.

‘Then there was a settlement to Berkovic, which was paid into his off-shore company.

‘They said tax should be deducted from it, but it was a payment to a company and not him personally.

‘It was paid to a business that was set up and therefore done by lawyers and our accountants.

‘Milan and I didn’t have anything to do with it. We didn’t do any of the paperwork whatsoever.’

Neither McKay nor Berkovic were charged with any offence.

As for Storrie, he says he can now begin to repair the damage which began back in November 2007 following a dawn raid by the City of London Police.

He said: ‘It has taken a while but now people can be told the truth.

‘To have this unusual situation where a person is found not guilty and then you can’t tell the world for three-and-a-half months makes it 10-times worse.

‘I would never, ever want to do anything that harmed Harry and Milan’s case in any way - but it has been totally and utterly unfair on me.

‘Talking to barristers and legal people, they just can’t recall anything like that happening. To not be able to tell anybody you are innocent is absolutely crazy.

‘The reason was because Milan was charged with a second case with Harry they didn’t want anything which might affect the jury’s decision, especially if they knew the verdict of the first case.

‘So there was a media ban on our case and the judge ruled we couldn’t announce the outcome.

‘I understand that, but at that time it was only going to be a two-week delay before their case.

‘Unfortunately Harry had his heart problem so his case was put back.

‘We actually went back to court and asked the judge if we could release the information that I was cleared.

‘The prosecution objected to it, they didn’t want anything to affect the second trial. In fact Harry and Milan’s lawyers objected to it as well.’