Co-defendant and former Portsmouth owner Milan Mandaric also acquitted

Pair hugged as the jury cleared them both of all counts in less than 3 hours

Redknapp: ‘This case should never have come to court’

Marks end of £8m police investigation which failed to yield a single conviction

Hopes of Redknapp leading the England team receive a major boost

Football boss Harry Redknapp spoke of his ‘nightmare’ after being cleared today of taking ‘bungs’ in an offshore tax dodge.

Speaking on the steps outside London’s Southwark Crown Court, the Tottenham Hotspur manager said: ‘It really has been a nightmare. I’ve got to be honest. It’s been five years and this is a case that should never have come to court because it’s unbelievable, really.
‘It was horrendous, you know, but it was a unanimous decision. The jury were absolutely unanimous that there was no case to answer. I’m pleased now we can go home and get on with our lives.’

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 former Portsmouth chairman Milan Mandaric blows the final whistle on an exhaustive £8 million City of London Police investigation which failed to yield a single conviction after five years.

The pair hugged as the jury cleared them of all counts after deliberating for less than three hours.

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.
The verdicts mark a disastrous conclusion to the protracted inquiry into football corruption by the tax authorities and City of London Police.

Chris Martin, from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), said outside Southwark Crown Court that the taxman had ‘no regrets’ about pursuing the case.

He said: ‘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.’

City of London Police began their investigation into money laundering in 2006. A force spokesman said HMRC was involved from the start of the inquiry, and took the lead role when alleged tax-related offences came to light. He added that it was not possible to ‘accurately calculate’ the salary costs of the investigation.

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 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.
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 with Redknapp giving an impassioned display in the witness box.
He told the jury he still struggled with literacy, wrote ‘like a two-year-old’ and claimed he was framed because his name was Harry and he was a Cockney.

Pushed to the verge of tears in the witness box as he denied claims he had told a ‘pack of lies’, Redknapp then turned furiously to shout at a police inspector sitting in court.

‘Will you please stop staring at me,’ he shouted at Detective Inspector Dave Manley. ‘I know you are trying to cause me a problem, ok.’
Redknapp had been accused of opening an account called Rosie 47, a combination of his dog’s name and the year of his birth, when he was working for Mandaric at Portsmouth.

The prosecution claimed he had hidden two ‘off-the-record’ payments in American dollars in the Mediterranean principality, an offshore tax haven.

The cash was ‘deliberately and dishonestly’ concealed with the prime purpose of avoiding the payment of tax, the jury was told.
The allegations against Redknapp, who lives in Poole, Dorset, centred around a series of lucrative bonuses built into this Portsmouth contract when he was made director of football in 2001.

These included ten per cent of any profit made from any players he bought and sold, bonuses which could total up to £500,000 depending on profits the club made from transfers.

However, the court heard that in 2002 – when Redknapp went from being director of football to the club’s team manager – the bonus for trading players was halved to five per cent.

Eight days after Redknapp joined Portsmouth in June 2001, England striker Peter Crouch was bought from Queen’s Park Rangers for £1.25million. Crouch stayed at Portsmouth for nine months before being sold to Aston Villa for more than £4million in 2002, the court heard.
The net profit of the sale was £2.3million, but, because of the revised terms of Redknapp’s new contract, he was due only 5 per cent of that, which was £115,473. This was paid to him via his wages.

But the prosecution said Mandaric made an ‘off-the-record’ arrangement to compensate Redknapp for taking a smaller cut after the deal had gone through.

The court heard Redknapp waited just four days after receiving the legal bonus from the Crouch sale before taking steps to ensure that he would receive ‘what he regarded was his due’.

He flew to Monaco to open the private Rosie 47 HSBC account, the jury was told. It was alleged that Mandaric, a Serbian billionaire, made two payments into the account.

The first charge related to £93,000 allegedly paid by Mandaric to Redknapp’s account between April 1, 2002, and November 28, 2007, without paying NI contributions or tax. The second related to £96,500 allegedly paid by Mandaric to Redknapp between May 1, 2004, and November 28, 2007, again into the Monaco account without paying NI contributions or tax.

The jury were not told why the second payment was made.

But the Monaco bank account eventually came to light during an inquiry into alleged illicit payments in football led by Lord Stevens, the former Metropolitan Police commissioner.

The results of that investigation, known as the Quest inquiry, was handed to the Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, in July 2007.

Redknapp had been investigated by HM Revenue & Customs officials over his transfer dealings at one of his previous clubs, West Ham United, the court heard. But he made no mention of the Monaco account when interviewed in November 2006.

Both Redknapp and Mandaric, of Oadby, Leicestershire, had denied two counts of cheating the public revenue.

Redknapp, who underwent heart surgery last year to unblock his arteries, is the most successful English manager in the modern game. He led Portsmouth to FA Cup success and Spurs into last season’s Uefa Champions’ League.

Unlike other managers, he had voluntarily disclosed details of the account at the centre of the investigation.

Redknapp was first held in November 2007 by detectives investigating transfer deals at Portsmouth and at Birmingham City.
The Redknapp case was part of a wider inquiry dubbed Operation Apprentice, into alleged football corruption.
Other figures to come under the police spotlight were Birmingham City’s former managing director Karren Brady, and former co-owner, David Sullivan. Both denied wrongdoing and were not charged.