TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp told a reporter he had no need to dodge tax for the sake of £30,000 and declared: “Everything I do, I do above board,” a court heard yesterday.
Redknapp said journalist Rob Beasley was “barking up the wrong tree” as he questioned him about payments totalling £189,400 to an offshore account in his dog’s name, in a tape recording of an interview played to jurors.
The favourite to succeed England head coach Fabio Capello also threatened in the interview to sue Beasley and the News of the World if they printed claims that Redknapp had failed to pay tax on the sums.
Beasley, now of the The Sun and appearing as a witness for the prosecution on the third day of the high-profile trial, told Southwark Crown Court: “Once it was published there was not a single letter. Not a whisper.”
Redknapp denies two charges of tax evasion relating to the payments, which he has said were legitimate bonuses he was entitled to for selling England forward Peter Crouch while Portsmouth manager.
Milan Mandaric, the former Portsmouth chairman and Redknapp’s co-accused, who paid the money into the 64-year-old’s Monaco HSBC account “Rosie 47”, also denies wrongdoing.
In the telephone interview from 2009, the day before Redknapp’s Tottenham were due to face Manchester United in the Carling Cup final, he was heard to ask Beasley: “Do me a favour. I tried to nick £30,000 to save on income tax? Do I need that Rob?”
Redknapp, who told Beasley he believed the money had been taxed in America, where Mandaric’s payment originated, added: “You’re going to write what you want to write and to f*** me up on cup final day. I know what’s going to happen Rob and you’re all barking up the wrong tree.”
Earlier the court heard how east Londoner Redknapp, the most successful current English manager, told football corruption investigators that he felt he was being persecuted for his Cockney roots.
“If there is any mud to be thrown, I seem to get on the end of it for whatever reason. A friend said to me: ‘Harry, I can’t believe it’s always you, I have dealt with you enough times. Your problem is your name, Harry, and you have got a Cockney accent’. People don’t know me and I am sick and tired of it,” Redknapp was said to have told the Stevens Inquiry in 2006.
John Black QC, for the prosecution, told jurors explanations put forward by Redknapp and Mandaric were “contradictory, inconsistent and lack credibility”.
Former West Ham and Southampton manager Redknapp is accused of concealing his “Rosie 47” account – named after his pet dog and the year of his birth – from HM Revenue and Customs until six years after it was opened, in 2002. The payments, of £93,100 and £96,300, are alleged to have been made between April 2002 and November 2007.
The trial continues.