THE ACQUITAL of Harry Redknapp and Milan Mandaric marks an ignominious end to a five-year £8m police and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) investigation into alleged football corruption that secured not a single conviction.
Both the police and the tax authorities defended the investigation on Wednesday night, with HMRC saying it had "no regrets" in pursuing former Portsmouth manager Redknapp and club owner Mandaric. But the failure to secure a single result despite two trials - Mandaric and former Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie were acquitted in a separate tax evasion trial last year - raises serious questions, the Telegraph reported.
The acquittals also mark the last twitch of the Quest inquiry, a civil investigation commissioned by the Premier League into the transfer market that ran in parallel to the police inquiries, and in one crucial aspect of the Redknapp case, informed them.
For City of London Police, which masterminded Operation Apprentice, the outcome at Southwark Crown Court marks a serious embarrassment, the Telegraph added.
It is the second major sporting corruption inquiry overseen by the force to end without a conviction, following the collapse of Kieren Fallon's prosecution for alleged race-fixing in 2007.
By the time the judge had thrown out that case, Operation Apprentice was under way.
It was a sweeping investigation into suspected money laundering and fraud that eventually led to nine players and executives, including Pascal Chimbonda and West Ham deputy chairman Karren Brady, being arrested.
Just three were charged, Redknapp, Storrie and Mandaric, and all were acquitted.
Chris Martin, assistant director of criminal investigations at HMRC, said he had no regrets, and warned others using offshore tax havens: "We have no regrets about pursuing this case because it was vitally important that the facts were put before a jury for their consideration.
"We accept the verdict 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 forward and talk to us before we come to talk to you."
Having spent £8m of tax payers money without any conviction or recovery of tax seems outrageous. It is difficult not to conclude that the case was actually about pursuing high profile individuals in the world of football. After all HMRC have the ongoing beef that football creditors rank higher than themselves. This does not excuse the huge waste of money in pursuing Redknapp et al, and Chris Martin of HMRC should resign.
Posted by: Paul Carr, 09 Feb 2012 | 11:46
I think Chris Martin should stick to fronting Coldplay. Even the CPS (couldn't prosecute Satan) could have won that one.
Posted by: Greg Thomas, 09 Feb 2012 | 12:27
"Taxi for Martin!" - P.S. don't charge it to the taxpayer
Posted by: Steve Biggs, 09 Feb 2012 | 14:32
Do you pay your tax? We're accountants of course we do.
People's fear (or healthy respect of tax is legendary, or a way of life).
What a waste of money! Can publicity be worth that amount? Has the action in crease society's respect for HMRC as a result of the case, or not. Did it succeed in putting the fear of God into sport and celebrities in general?
Has it encouraged more respect from the tax payer? If it has then the HMRC was right to pursue the case against the former Portsmouth manager and his ex boss.
If not, who are HMRC accountable to?
Posted by: AccountantNow, 09 Feb 2012 | 15:44
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