Redknapp wins high court claim over police raid

May 23, 2008

Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp today won his High Court claim that police who raided his home as part of a corruption inquiry were acting unlawfully.

The court ruled that the search warrant used by City of London Police was invalid and quashed it.

The force were ordered to pay £1,000 damages to Redknapp - who last Saturday led Pompey to their second FA Cup final victory - and part of his legal costs.

The High Court said procedural failures by City of London Police in applying for the warrant were 'wholly unacceptable'.

Lord Justice Latham said: 'The obtaining of a search warrant is never to be treated as a formality. It authorises the invasion of a person's home.'

The judge, sitting with Mr Justice Underhill, heard that the 6am search of Redknapp's house in Sandbanks, Poole, Dorset, last November was caught on camera by newspaper photographers, as was his departure from Chichester police station after being bailed later the same day.

In a judicial review hearing, Redknapp and his wife Sandra challenged a decision by City of London Magistrates' Court to issue the warrant, and its execution by City of London Police.

The force were also ordered to pay 25% of the Redknapps' legal costs, unofficially estimated at around £10,000.

The couple's solicitor, Mark Spragg, said after the ruling: 'This was an outrageous abuse of power by the police who ignored the rule book and executed an unlawful search warrant at 6am in the full glare of media coverage which they no doubt organised or at least did not discourage.'

Only Mrs Redknapp was at home at the time of the raid as her husband was on his way back from Germany.

On his arrival, he voluntarily attended Chichester police station, where he was immediately arrested and detained for seven hours.

Redknapp held a press conference following his release on bail and spoke of his 'bitter disappointment' at the way the raid and his arrest had been handled.

He said he believed he had only been arrested because he was a 'high-profile' figure.

A total of nine people are on bail in connection with the continuing police inquiry, which has involved searches at a number of football club premises, including Portsmouth.

The police strongly denied tipping off the media in advance of the raid on the Redknapps' home.

City of London Police said in a statement: 'We accept the judges' decision. We have already reviewed our procedures and we will be working closely with the City of London magistrates to ensure that warrants meet current guidelines.

'Having consulted with the Fraud Prosecution Service, we are satisfied that nothing contained within the judgment has any impact on the main body of evidence being gathered in relation to the investigation. We will continue to work closely with the Fraud Prosecution Service and counsel throughout.

'As this is a live investigation, we cannot comment further at present.'

Lord Justice Latham said the search warrant was obtained as part of an inquiry into suspicions that Redknapp, together with Portsmouth managing director Peter Storrie and its then owner and chairman Milan Mandaric, might have conspired to make disguised payments to a player, Andy Faye, using the agent William McKay to receive payments offshore.

Police suspected that contact between the individuals involved was inhibiting officers from obtaining all the information they wanted.

After citing the strict rules imposed on the granting of warrants by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace), the judge said the High Court had complained in the past about 'slipshod completion of application forms such as this'.

Although the police in this case had not acted in bad faith, they had failed to state why a warrant was necessary or why they believed Redknapp, who had previously offered full co-operation, would not now co-operate or might destroy relevant evidence.

Their failure to abide by the Pace requirements rendered the warrant unlawful.

Rejecting complaints about the way the search was carried out, the judge said that, whatever suspicions the Redknapps might have, there was no material to justify the conclusion that there was collusion between the police and the press.

There was no basis for saying that the search was carried out at an unreasonable hour, contrary to Pace rules, or that the material seized went beyond the remit of the warrant.

But the execution of the warrant was invalidated because the copy shown to Mrs Redknapp did not specify the address of her home.

Harry Redknapp had also challenged the decision to arrest him, detain him, bail him and then extend bail.

The judge said that, without an extensive factual inquiry which it was not appropriate for the court to undertake, there was nothing to justify making a court order in respect of that complaint.