Former Pompey manager Harry Redknapp has been cleared today of taking bungs in an offshore tax dodge.
Milan Mandaric was cleared at Southwark Crown Court today of sending Harry Redknapp a tax-free offshore bung worth £93,100.
Redknapp was also cleared of dodging tax on the deposit in his Monaco account, Rosie 47.
The football manager’s hopes of leading 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 £8 million 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.
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.’
Chris Martin from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said outside the court the taxman had ‘no regrets’ about pursuing the case.
The spokesman said: ‘I would like to thank my colleagues in City of London Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs who worked so hard and with great professionalism to get this complex case before a jury.
‘Tax evasion is not a victimless crime, because every penny of tax evaded reduces the UK’s ability to pay down the deficit and support our public services.
‘That is why we relentlessly pursue those we believe are evading tax.
‘We’ve 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 verdicts 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 to talk to us before we come to talk to you.’
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 was tipped as the outstanding favourite to replace Fabio Capello as England manager this summer.
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.
David Davies, the former chief executive of the FA, said: ‘I am delighted on a personal level for Harry Redknapp.
‘I happen to know something of the strain that he has been under as anyone would be with these sort of charges hanging around him for as long as they have.
‘The suspicion and the innuendo has hung around.
‘I think yes, he will be relieved but yes he will be delighted.’
Asked if thought Redknapp would be the next England manager, he said: ‘I think that if you had a poll in the country at the moment he would be the overwhelming choice, though there are other strong candidates who are English.’