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Last Updated: Monday, 25 February 2008, 19:01 GMT
Autographs 'are fake' expert says
Graeme Walker and Faisal Madani
Graeme Walker and Faisal Madani deny the charges
The signatures of sporting heroes on a range of memorabilia were faked, a handwriting expert has said.

Kim Hughes told Chester Crown Court there were significant differences between the forged signatures and autographs supplied by players.

Graeme Walker, 45, of Connah's Quay, Flintshire, denies more than 50 counts of cheating the customers of his shop Sporting Icons in Chester.

Faisal Madani, 43, of Stockport, denies 20 counts of supplying the forgeries.

'Significant differences'

The pair stand accused of faking signatures of sporting figures Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Johnny Wilkinson and Ian Rush, among others on a range of memorabilia including shirts and photographs.

Mr Hughes told the court that a framed number eight Liverpool shirt had the forged signature of Steven Gerrard written on it.

He said he had compared how the "s" and the "d" were written on the shirt with the signatures provided by the star.

"There are significant differences between this and the signed specimen from Steven Gerrard. This is not a genuine signature," he said.

An England rugby shirt allegedly signed by Jonny Wilkinson was bought by a Cheshire Trading Standards Officer from Sporting Icons Limited
A handwriting expert admitted signatures could change

When asked what his findings were when he examined the signature of Ian Rush on a 1977 European Cup Winners Liverpool football shirt, Mr Hughes told the court: "There is conclusive findings that that is not a genuine signature of Ian Rush."

The court was also shown two England armbands apparently signed by Michael Owen but, after comparing the signature with those provided by the player, Mr Hughes said: "Those are not genuine signatures of Michael Owen."

But during cross examination Mr Hughes admitted that a person's signature could change.

Paul Lawton, who is defending Mr Walker, asked if Mr Hughes's work with trading standards had compromised his independence with regards the investigation.

Mr Hughes denied the claim.

The trial continues.

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05 Feb 08 |  Merseyside

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