Storrie: Now everyone can know I’m innocent

120374-543_PETER_STORRIE_SR_1/2/12'Former Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie talks to Neil Allen of The News about his four year legal ordeal and subsequent aquittal , at his home on Hayling Island.''Picture: Steve Reid (120374-543)
120374-543_PETER_STORRIE_SR_1/2/12'Former Pompey chief executive Peter Storrie talks to Neil Allen of The News about his four year legal ordeal and subsequent aquittal , at his home on Hayling Island.''Picture: Steve Reid (120374-543)
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When Peter Storrie walked into a room, the whispering started.

Nothing to do with rampant paranoia or grand delusions of self-importance, you understand. He could hear them.

They were the polite ones.

One person waved £10 notes in front of his face, while some would indiscreetly turn their backs.

Others opted to take to the internet to assassinate his character, spitting words which proved to be most piercing of all.

Even walking his two dogs and watching his stepson play parks football attracted unwelcome attention for Pompey’s former chief executive.

After all, for more than four years this was a man whose name had been inextricably linked with tax evasion.

But even after Storrie was cleared of all charges on October 20 last year, the world remained ignorant of the established truth.

Fears such an announcement may prejudice the trials of his former Fratton Park colleagues Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric, meant the 59-year-old was ordered to prolong his suffering.

That was until Redknapp and Mandaric themselves were found not guilty at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday.

Now the whispering has ceased.

Storrie may still be a controversial figure in the eyes of some Pompey fans, who feel he contributed to the club’s financial demise.

But as far as the criminal accusations which were thrown at him go, it’s time for Storrie to shout out his innocence loud and clear.

He said: ‘I now have the opportunity to go back to those people and say “I told you so from day one”.

‘All the time you know you can hear people. You go to a function and can hear them talking about you. You know you are being mentioned, they’re saying “he’s the guy on trial”.

‘I remember going to the Queen’s Club for the tennis and bumping into someone I hadn’t seen for many years from my West Ham days.

‘I went into the toilet and when I came out, I heard him talking to another guy.

‘He was saying “I was talking to this chap, what’s his name, used to be chief executive of West Ham? The one that has done all that tax evasion”.

‘I remember it clearly. Those sort of comments stick in your mind and you think “Do people think there is no smoke without fire?”.

‘Another time I was at Southampton after watching Pompey win there.

‘As I was leaving, a Southampton fan waved money in my face saying “You can’t even pay your own taxes”.

‘My family were with me, including my stepson with his girlfriend who would later become his wife.

‘Then I have read stuff on these internet sites which would be something like “Well, we can’t hear anything from Peter Storrie because he has been found guilty and is in prison”.

‘The worst one said: “He’s got off because he has turned in Queen’s evidence against Harry and Milan”.

‘It was my daughter who rang up and told me about that one. That is the sort of thing myself and my family had to read.

‘You have to tell yourself that these are people you don’t know, they are ignorant, they don’t know the facts, they don’t know the information.

‘I was unanimously found innocent of all charges. As I always said, I am innocent.’

It was back on November 28, 2007, when a 6am raid on his Hayling Island home by the City of London Police served as a life-changing moment for Storrie.

Simultaneously, the houses of Redknapp, Mandaric and agent Willie McKay were also set upon.

The swoops were part of the high-profile investigation into alleged corruption in football.

Storrie was charged for tax evasion in October 2009, relating to the 2003 transfer of Amdy Faye to Pompey when it was alleged a £250,000 payment was made to Faye’s agent McKay.

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

Mandaric was charged with the same offence. Ultimately, McKay and Berkovic were never charged, while Redknapp, Mandaric and Storrie were found not guilty by the courts.

For Storrie, though, that police raid would precede more than four years of hell.

He added: ‘I was put into a police cell for 10 hours. They had taken away my shoes and belt.

‘All I had to do was read OK magazine.

‘Since April 2007 we had been nothing but helpful, giving all the information they wanted and insisting we would be very happy to meet them and go through any more questions. It came as a bit of a shock. Why were they using this heavy-handed method?

‘In the seriousness of all of this, what made me laugh was the reason for being in that cell so long was because they were waiting for Harry Redknapp to “give himself up”.

‘It made me think of Wild West movies when they said that!

‘Harry had been away to watch a football game in Germany.

‘He was eventually put into the cell next to me. I could hear him.

‘Never did I dream in 100 years it would end up in the crown court.’

It took the jury at Southwark Crown Court just three hours to unanimously clear Storrie.

That included a set one-hour lunch break. The moment the verdict was delivered has left an indelible mark on the former Blues chief executive.

And he is convinced the saga has also scarred his name for life.

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

‘When it was delivered, my wife, Frances, gave a hysterical cry.

‘That moment you will always, always remember. I will never forget that. When we were charged, from that moment onwards you can’t help but feel you might go to prison. It’s on your mind. Although you are confident within yourself, it is down to how other people see it.

‘Through it all, though, my wife and family got me through – and self-belief. You know you are innocent, so you are very determined.

‘Publicly, though, my name and reputation were damaged over four years. That was terrible.

‘And it has changed me. It really has.’