Football for Sale: Agent asked by juror why he didn't 'walk away' following bribery suspicions

A football agent on trial accused of bribery and corruption was asked by a member of the jury why he did not simply “get up and walk away” once he suspected a Far East firm was prepared to act illegally. In an unusual step a member of the jury submitted the written question during the trial of Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Pagliara on two counts of soliciting and arranging payment of a bribe. Through the judge, His Honour Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC, the juror asked Mr Pagliara why, if he was himself honest and free of corruption, he didn’t cease discussions with the fictitious Meiran sports agency once it became clear they were willing to engage in bribery and illegal practices. During an undercover investigation by The Telegraph into football corruption the 64-year-old Italian was repeatedly caught on tape allegedly encouraging its reporters, who he believed worked for Meiran, to buy players on a shared ownership basis with Barnsley FC. The practice, known as third party ownership, is strictly against FA regulations. The juror asked Mr Pagliara, on Thursday, why “you did not get up and walk away once they [Meiran] were unfazed by claims of corruption”. After thanking the juror for what he described as their “prescient question”, Mr Pagliara replied: “I was always confident there would be no corruption taking place because I would be doing all the negotiations and transactions. The ends justify the means.” Southwark Crown Court heard how at a meeting at Oulton Hall Hotel, in Leeds, in August 2016, Mr Pagliara discussed with Claire Newell, an undercover reporter posing as a representative of Meiran and its owner the fictitious Bakrie conglomerate, how Barnsley and Meiran could split the cost of jointly owning a particular player and split the profit once he was sold to another club. Mr Pagliara denies attempting to arrange third party ownership of players and maintained in court that he had lied in a series of meetings with Ms Newell as part of his strategy to persuade Meiran to buy an English football club and install him as its general manager. He said: “Circumstances justified my lies to get to the ends [I wanted]”, later adding: “I wanted somebody who was as corrupt as the Bakrie group to be attracted to the deal.” Mr Pagliara also denies bribing Barnsley’s assistant manager Tommy Wright with £5,000 in cash to arrange a meeting between himself and his business partner Dax Price and the club’s owners. But in a series of increasingly heated exchanges with prosecuting barrister, Brian O’Neill QC, he rejected suggestions that his words at the time of the meetings with Ms Newell reflected his true purpose and intention. Mr O’Neill put it to Mr Pagliara: “The reality of arranging a meeting with Barnsley is that you were completely reliant on Tommy Wright to get you through the door.” Mr Pagliara said: “I didn’t need to pay anybody. I’ve never needed to pay anybody to introduce me to a football club. I could just phone them up.” Mr O’Neill responded: “But you didn’t. You chose the corrupt route because, as you said earlier in the transcript [of the taped meetings], ‘It’s quicker that way. That's how we like it’.” Mr Pagliara grew so angry that at one stage during his evidence the judge urged him to take a break outside, where he appeared so stressed his wife feared he was having a heart attack. On returning into the witness box he was asked why he paid Mr Wright what was the equivalent of 40 times his hourly salary as Barnsley’s assistant manager, for what he claims was simply a consultancy fee for professional advice on players. Mr Pagliara, who was approached by Telegraph journalists after he returned to the game following a five-year ban over a match-fixing scam in Italy, replied: “He was being paid for spotting football talent. That’s a God given gift.” Mr Price, 47, from Kent, denies two counts of paying and facilitating a bribe. But in a surprise move his barrister, Graham Trembath QC, informed the court that his client would not be giving evidence in his own defence. Judge Pegden told the jury members they were entitled to feel Mr Price’s decision “could create an adverse impression of him” in their minds. Mr Wright, 52, denies two counts of accepting a bribe. The trial continues.

Football for Sale: Agent asked by juror why he didn't 'walk away' following bribery suspicions

A football agent on trial accused of bribery and corruption was asked by a member of the jury why he did not simply “get up and walk away” once he suspected a Far East firm was prepared to act illegally.

In an unusual step a member of the jury submitted the written question during the trial of Giuseppe ‘Pino’ Pagliara on two counts of soliciting and arranging payment of a bribe.

Through the judge, His Honour Judge Jeffrey Pegden QC, the juror asked Mr Pagliara why, if he was himself honest and free of corruption, he didn’t cease discussions with the fictitious Meiran sports agency once it became clear they were willing to engage in bribery and illegal practices.

During an undercover investigation by The Telegraph into football corruption the 64-year-old Italian was repeatedly caught on tape allegedly encouraging its reporters, who he believed worked for Meiran, to buy players on a shared ownership basis with Barnsley FC.

The practice, known as third party ownership, is strictly against FA regulations.

The juror asked Mr Pagliara, on Thursday, why “you did not get up and walk away once they [Meiran] were unfazed by claims of corruption”.

After thanking the juror for what he described as their “prescient question”, Mr Pagliara replied: “I was always confident there would be no corruption taking place because I would be doing all the negotiations and transactions. The ends justify the means.”

Southwark Crown Court heard how at a meeting at Oulton Hall Hotel, in Leeds, in August 2016, Mr Pagliara discussed with Claire Newell, an undercover reporter posing as a representative of Meiran and its owner the fictitious Bakrie conglomerate, how Barnsley and Meiran could split the cost of jointly owning a particular player and split the profit once he was sold to another club.

Mr Pagliara denies attempting to arrange third party ownership of players and maintained in court that he had lied in a series of meetings with Ms Newell as part of his strategy to persuade Meiran to buy an English football club and install him as its general manager.

He said: “Circumstances justified my lies to get to the ends [I wanted]”, later adding: “I wanted somebody who was as corrupt as the Bakrie group to be attracted to the deal.”

Mr Pagliara also denies bribing Barnsley’s assistant manager Tommy Wright with £5,000 in cash to arrange a meeting between himself and his business partner Dax Price and the club’s owners.

But in a series of increasingly heated exchanges with prosecuting barrister, Brian O’Neill QC, he rejected suggestions that his words at the time of the meetings with Ms Newell reflected his true purpose and intention.

Mr O’Neill put it to Mr Pagliara: “The reality of arranging a meeting with Barnsley is that you were completely reliant on Tommy Wright to get you through the door.”

Mr Pagliara said: “I didn’t need to pay anybody. I’ve never needed to pay anybody to introduce me to a football club. I could just phone them up.”

Mr O’Neill responded: “But you didn’t. You chose the corrupt route because, as you said earlier in the transcript [of the taped meetings], ‘It’s quicker that way. That's how we like it’.”

Mr Pagliara grew so angry that at one stage during his evidence the judge urged him to take a break outside, where he appeared so stressed his wife feared he was having a heart attack.

On returning into the witness box he was asked why he paid Mr Wright what was the equivalent of 40 times his hourly salary as Barnsley’s assistant manager, for what he claims was simply a consultancy fee for professional advice on players.

Mr Pagliara, who was approached by Telegraph journalists after he returned to the game following a five-year ban over a match-fixing scam in Italy, replied: “He was being paid for spotting football talent. That’s a God given gift.”

Mr Price, 47, from Kent, denies two counts of paying and facilitating a bribe.

But in a surprise move his barrister, Graham Trembath QC, informed the court that his client would not be giving evidence in his own defence.

Judge Pegden told the jury members they were entitled to feel Mr Price’s decision “could create an adverse impression of him” in their minds.

Mr Wright, 52, denies two counts of accepting a bribe.

The trial continues.