Redknapp trial jury begins considering verdicts

ROB HARRIS AP Sports Writer Published:

LONDON (AP) -- The jury in Harry Redknapp's tax evasion trial began deliberating after the judge warned them to forget about the "emotive subject" of football on Tuesday.

Redknapp, the Tottenham manager, is accused along with Milan Mandaric, his former chairman at Portsmouth, of concealing $295,000 of transfer bonuses in a Monaco bank account to avoid paying taxes in Britain at times from 2002-08.

On the 12th day of the trial, the jury retired at around 1230 GMT at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Judge Anthony Leonard told the eight men and four women of the jury that despite Redknapp and Mandaric being well-known personalities "there are no special rules you will attach to them as a result."

But at the end of a trial that has shone the light on the lucrative rewards available to managers, the judge revealed his own concerns about the sport that he then told the jury to disregard.

"Football is .... an emotive subject, stirring in an individual anything ranging from deep passion to resentment," Leonard said as he started to sum up. "It is a sport that has become so commercial it may be thought by some to have lost its way."

Part of the prosecution case relies on Redknapp's apparent admission in a taped conversation with a tabloid journalist in 2009 that the money was a bonus from Peter Crouch's transfer from Portsmouth to Aston Villa.

A journalist from the now-defunct News of the World, Rob Beasley, told the court during the case that accusations were put to Redknapp after paying 8,000 pounds to an informant, who he insisted was not a police officer or a tax authority worker. Beasley also said he relied on gossip and kidology when questioning Redknapp.

"(Beasley) came in for what you might think is justified criticism ... for the methods he adopted," Leonard said.

"Whatever view you form of Beasley, he does have an unchangeable record of what was said in those conversations."

Beasley has since moved from News of the World to News International stablemate The Sun, which employs Redknapp as a columnist.

Redknapp managed Portsmouth, which is now in the second tier, from 2002 to 2004, and returned to Fratton Park in 2005 after a brief spell at its archrival Southampton before moving to Tottenham in 2008.

The prosecution case is that Redknapp and Mandaric were trying to dodge paying income tax and national insurance. Mandaric is accused of paying $145,000 into Redknapp's Monaco bank account in 2002 -- a bonus prompted by Crouch's sale -- and another $150,000 two years later. They deny two counts of cheating the public revenue.

The 73-year-old Mandaric, the chairman at third-tier club Sheffield Wednesday, claims he was providing tax free loans to Redknapp.