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By ESPN Staff

Barrister: Tax trial is 'repugnant'

The prosecution case at Harry Redknapp's tax evasion trial is "repugnant to all our basic instincts of fairness'', a court heard on Monday.

Defence barrister John Kelsey-Fry QC launched a fierce attack on the Crown for using a News of the World investigation as its "crucial lynchpin'' in the case.

"There is an inherent absurdity that shrieks out at you'' in some of the allegations that Redknapp took £189,000 in bungs, he told London's Southwark Crown Court.

Betting odds crashed for Redknapp being the next Premier League manager to be sacked two days before allegations were made public, jurors were told.

Mr Kelsey-Fry said bookmakers slashed bets from 50/1 to evens after a flurry of wagers on the Friday before accusations against Redknapp and co-defendant Milan Mandaric appeared in the Sunday tabloid.

In his closing speech, the barrister said the Crown was relying on "primarily despicable'' evidence gathered by reporter Rob Beasley.

He said: "I do not shrink from suggesting to you it is repugnant to all our basic instincts of fairness in the criminal justice process.''

Referring to interviews carried out Mr Beasley, Mr Kelsey-Fry said: "They saw a great story, all's fair in love and war at the News of the World.''

Redknapp and Mandaric, his former chairman at Portsmouth, were an "odd couple'' like the old Hollywood film, the court heard earlier.

They were compared to the characters portrayed by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau as Mandaric's defence barrister Lord Macdonald QC said the prosecution was "really flailing'' with "paper-thin'' explanations for the Monaco payments.

Lord Macdonald also highlighted Mandaric's multibillion-pound business dealings, saying: "Steve Jobs doesn't work with fools.''

"It's really desperate stuff'' to suggest Mandaric might have intended the payments as a reward for Portsmouth beating Manchester United, jurors heard.

It also "simply doesn't make sense'' that the first payment was a bonus for the £3million profit made over the sale of Peter Crouch from Portsmouth to Aston Villa, Lord Macdonald said.

"We say the evidence against him is hopelessly weak,'' he said.

The barrister added that "there's nothing even slightly sinister'' about the actions.

"In Milan Mandaric's mind this was not money for Crouch, this was Milan Mandaric coming through on money he had promised months before - for a portfolio,'' the barrister said.

As a "non-dom'', it made no sense for Mandaric to pay the money into a UK account, jurors at Southwark Crown Court heard.

Lord Macdonald said the pair had an "emotional relationship, at times a tempestuous relationship, at times a love-hate relationship''.

They are an "odd couple, a bit like the old film'', he added.

"An odd couple, different men, different backgrounds... but I would suggest a deep affection,'' Lord Macdonald said.

"Mr Mandaric had no fear describing his emotions towards Mr Redknapp, he said he loves them.''

Both Redknapp, 64, of Poole, Dorset, and Mandaric, from Oadby, Leicestershire, deny two counts of cheating the public revenue when Redknapp was manager of Portsmouth Football Club.

The first charge of cheating the public revenue alleges that between April 1 2002 and November 28 2007 Mandaric paid 145,000 US dollars (£93,100) into the account.

The second charge for the same offence relates to a sum of 150,000 US dollars (£96,300) allegedly paid between May 1 2004 and November 28 2007.

The court was adjourned until Tuesday when Judge Anthony Leonard will begin summing up evidence.