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Souness: I`m innocent

Self-styled hardman and former boss Graeme Souness has come out of his corner in the Quest battle, waving his handbag and going straight for Lord Stevens with his perfectly manicured stick on nails, as the mudslinging continues. Far from accepting any responsibility, Souness decides that blowing the whistle on Fat Fred is his best approach. Speaking to the Mail, he said:

"How dare Quest do this to me? I`m furious. They have blackened my reputation without anything to back up their claims. Stevens` report states there was absolutely no evidence of improper payments to clubs, officials or players — and yet they throw my name in to their report to generate headlines. Their only justification is some vague nonsense about there being inconsistencies in my answers to their questions. What`s that about?

I`ve been in the professional game for 40 years and whether you like me or not, I`ve won more than 25 major honours right across Europe both as a player and a manager. And then some outfit of accountants write things that could destroy my life and my career, when their own report says there was no evidence of wrongdoing! It`s an absolute disgrace. Why is my photograph in the paper just because some Newcastle deals were named as being under review? It`s a despicable smear.'

Stevens questions Chelsea transfers but there is no mention of Jose Mourinho. And Middlesbrough are in there too, but I don`t see Steve McClaren`s face staring out from a back page. But they think it`s all right for me to be there? It beggars belief. Quest have been paid £1.3million for this report. Personally, I think the Premier League are being taken for a ride.

Let me tell you, in my time at Newcastle one man and one man alone decided what player came to the club and what player left — and it wasn`t the manager. It was the chairman. He controlled how much Newcastle paid for a player, how much salary that individual received and how much the agent would be paid. I wasn`t involved in any discussions or meetings about those transactions. Not about the fee, the salary or the agents` fees.

The only exception was the Boumsong deal. I knew the details of that transfer fee because he was coming in from Rangers and I`m a close friend of their chairman David Murray. But the rest was the chairman`s business. So when Quest talk about inconsistencies, how that can be? They were happy with all the paperwork, it says so in black and white.

As for Kenny Shepherd, why should I be held accountable for his testimony? I`m not even sure why he was there. He is basically a fan who just happens to be the chairman`s son. I don`t see why my evidence should be questioned against his. They asked me to see them and I did. They had every piece of paper they needed to tick every box. Two months later, I went to see Quest again, apparently because they wanted to know more about Kenny Shepherd`s involvement with transfers.

But in that second meeting they didn`t put to me any inconsistencies about my own evidence, they simply wanted to know more about Kenny Shepherd`s role at Newcastle. It was very amiable and I left thinking the matter was closed.

If there were some unspecified issues, surely that was the time to ask about them, or even afterwards? These characters are supposed to be sharp, forensic accountants after all. They are selling themselves as a highly professional organisation and yet here they are named in papers submitted to my solicitors as being responsible for leaks. Quest have denied this to my lawyers, but it`s a concern which will be cleared up when it goes to trial.

I`ve had loads of messages of support from people in the game. They think the way this whole charade has played out is outrageous. Good. Bring it on. I`d welcome any opportunity to clear my name and I`ll fight all the way to do that.'

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The Journalist

Writer: Ross Molyneux Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday June 21 2007

Time: 9:54AM

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What a crook.
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21/06/2007 19:11:00


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