Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said he lied to a journalist from a now-defunct News Corp. tabloid about offshore funds at the center of his tax-evasion trial.
News of the World reporter Rob Beasley asked Redknapp in 2009 about the account in Monaco, named for the soccer coach’s late bulldog Rosie, after the journalist got information that police and tax officials were going to question the soccer coach. Redknapp said he lied to the reporter and told him it was for a bonus owed to him for the sale of a player because he didn’t want Beasley to write that the money came from an agent.
“I don’t have to tell Mr. Beasley the truth,” Redknapp said during a second day of questioning from prosecutor John Black. “I have to tell the police the truth, not Mr. Beasley. He’s a News of the World reporter.”
Redknapp, 64, is accused of working with his co-defendant, Sheffield Wednesday owner Milan Mandaric, to evade U.K. taxes by putting $295,000 into an offshore account when they were at Portsmouth soccer club. The pair deny the charges, with Redknapp telling the court that the money was a loan from Mandaric for an investment. He had told Beasley and police officers it was a bonus owed to him for selling Peter Crouch.
Beasley, who now works for the News Corp.-owned Sun newspaper, appeared as a witness earlier in the trial and said he paid the 8,000 pounds ($12,700) to a source who wasn’t a member of the investigating City of London Police or U.K. government tax officials. The News of the World was closed last year after evidence revealed its reporters hacked mobile phones of celebrities and a murdered teenager. A separate police investigation over allegations of paying police for information is currently under way. Bloomberg News is a competitor of News Corp.
Redknapp yesterday said his wife Sandra was left “terrified” after photographers from the Sun newspaper appeared as police conducted a dawn raid at his home to arrest him on unrelated charges on 2007. Redknapp wasn’t in at the time, and was returning from a scouting trip in Germany.
“It absolutely terrified my wife, who was there on her own,” Redknapp said. “She was in a terrible state. They jammed the alarm on. She thought there were burglars and she was hysterical. Eventually she opened the gates and police came in with photographers alongside them. My wife thought I’d been killed in a plane crash.”
Redknapp said he made a complaint about the photographers and has yet to find out how they were tipped off.
Beasley spoke to Redknapp two days before the March 1, 2009 League Cup final, which Tottenham lost.
“Why would I let the cat out of the bag to the News of the World?” Redknapp said today. “I said write the story, Rob, but don’t write that it’s a payment from an agent, Rob, because this is a payment from my chairman.”
Redknapp said giving Beasley false information was “the easy way out.”
The information about the offshore account came to light four years after it was opened in 2002 when Redknapp told private investigators from Quest Ltd. about it. They were hired by the Premier League to uncover corrupt payments from agents.
Crouch was bought by Portsmouth in 2001 when Redknapp’s contract allowed him 10 percent of any profits on players sold. By the time the striker was sold Redknapp had become the team’s coach and his player sale entitlement was reduced 5 percent.
Redknapp said in police interviews that he argued with Mandaric about not getting 10 percent and the Monaco account was opened to pacify him. Mandaric says the money is unconnected with Redknapp’s work at Portsmouth. He described it yesterday as “seed capital” to help Redknapp start an investment portfolio in the U.S and solidify the pair’s friendship.
‘Ruin His Life?’
“You’re talking about a man who’s paid 100 million pounds of income tax is he going to try and fiddle a small amount to try and ruin his life and mine?,” Redknapp said.
Redknapp was Portsmouth manager from 2002 to 2004 and then again from 2005 to 2008, leading Pompey to the F.A. Cup title in his final full season. He left to take over at Tottenham in October 2008 and guided the north London team to the Champions League in 2010.