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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 18:54 GMT
Autograph trial hears from Owen
Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard arriving at court
The court heard from Michael Owen and Steven Gerrard
One of the men accused of selling the forged signatures of sports stars organised a free holiday for Michael Owen, Chester Crown Court heard.

Graeme Walker, 45, of Connah's Quay, Flintshire, and Faisal Madani, 43, of Bramhall, Stockport, deny 74 charges under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Newcastle forward Owen said Mr Madani organised the trip in 2004 and later asked him to provide some autographs.

However he denied agreeing to supply scores of signatures for the defendant.

Owen, 28, said, he did not know that Mr Madani dealt in sporting memorabilia until he was contacted about the prosecution.

The jury heard that Mr Madani, of Mountain View Close, was friends with many Premier League football players and attended last year's wedding of England centre-back John Terry.

He is accused of selling a variety of sporting memorabilia items, including shirts and photographs, with fakes autographs of the stars, at his shop Sporting Icons in Chester.

Owen told the court how former Liverpool player and coach Phil Thompson had talked to him about how helpful Mr Madani could be.

Graeme Walker and Faisal Madani
Graeme Walker and Faisal Madani deny the charges

Owen said: "When I first got introduced to Mr Madani, Phil Thompson said Mr Madani was from Dubai and knew lots of top people out there and if I wanted a holiday I am sure he knows the right people to get you in the right hotels.

"And that they would be pleased to have you and you might not have to pay for it."

The former Liverpool player said he did not know who paid for the 10-day holiday, but was told the hotel would be happy to have him for their publicity.

Owen said, like other players, he was asked to sign things regularly.

But the player said he was sure several items presented to court featured a forgery of his signature.

'Signed photograph'

They included 19 captain's armbands; a picture of him winning his 50th cap against Slovakia in June 2003; a photograph of him and Liverpool legend Ian Rush; and a picture of him celebrating another goal with Rio Ferdinand and David Beckham.

Liverpool captain, Steven Gerrard, 27, also appeared in court, over allegations he met Mr Madani during a meal in Manchester a few years ago and signed a photograph.

Gerrard denied the meeting, despite claims from Mr Madani's barrister, Peter Davies, that his client remembered the meeting because Gerrard made a comment about his own arms.

Mr Davies said: "You didn't like the picture did you, because you said it showed cellulite in your arms."

He was shown a photograph of himself holding up the Champions League Cup but when asked if it was his, he gave a decisive "no."

The trial continues.

The case against 'Sporting Icons' shop

Fans 'conned' by fake autographs
19 Feb 08 |  England
Autograph trial jury discharged
14 Feb 08 |  England
Stars called to autograph trial
05 Feb 08 |  Merseyside

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