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08 Feb 2012 18:38
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp said his tax evasion case should never have been brought to court after he was acquitted of all charges on Wednesday.
The 64-year-old Spurs boss—widely regarded as favourite to be the next England manager—spoke of his relief after a five-year “nightmare” following unanimous not guilty verdicts at Southwark Crown Court.
“I’m looking forward to getting home, and getting away from all this,” Redknapp said outside court. “It really has been a nightmare, I’ve got to be honest.
It’s been five years and it should never have come to court.
“It’s unbelievable really.
Redknapp’s co-defendant Milan Mandaric, who was also cleared of all charges, described his acquittal as being released from a “horrible dream”.
“I would rather not talk much now, and I’m quite sure you understand that ... I’ve got to go somewhere to try to pinch myself and wake me up from that horrible dream that I had in the past ... As we said in the statements, I always believed in the truth, and always believed in the British justice system.”
An official from Britain’s tax authority defended the decision to prosecute Redknapp.
“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,” Chris Martin from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) said.
“We’ve no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before a jury for their consideration.
Tottenham meanwhile welcomed Redknapp’s acquittal along with the wider football world.
“Everyone at the club is delighted for Harry and his family,” a statement from Spurs said. “This has been hanging over him for over four years and the last two weeks have been particularly difficult.
“We are pleased to see this resolved and we all look forward to the rest of the season.”
Former England manager Graham Taylor meanwhile said the acquittal cleared the way for Redknapp to succeed Fabio Capello as England manager.
“Now that Harry has been proved innocent it makes a clear path should the FA wish in the future to offer him the England manager’s job when Fabio Capello comes to the end of his reign,” Taylor told the BBC.—AFP
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