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Last Updated: Monday, 10 March 2008, 16:41 GMT
Seller 'thought autographs real'
Graeme Walker and Faisal Madani
Graeme Walker and Faisal Madani deny the charges
A man accused of selling forged signatures of sports stars has told a court he believed they were genuine.

Graeme Walker, 45, said he had compared autographs on sale in his Chester Sporting Icons shop with memorabilia on websites and in collector magazines.

He told Chester Crown Court that Faisal Madani, 43, supplied the autographed items and assured him they were real.

Mr Walker, of Flintshire, and Mr Madani, of Stockport, deny charges under the Trade Descriptions Act.

Mr Walker, of Mountain View Close, Connah's Quay, told the court he was an electrician before setting up the shop, which had grown out of a hobby.

He said his former business partner Mr Madani, of Grange Road, Bramhall, was the primary source of memorabilia.

Paul Lawton, defending Mr Walker, asked his client if he had shown "due diligence" and checked the signatures on the items.

I can confirm that I am not related to a person called Faisal Madani
Armer Mouaffac Al Midani,
former Manchester United director

Mr Walker said: "Yes."

The court heard that Mr Walker had used a "printed England rugby team sheet" to compare some of the signatures.

Mr Lawton asked the defendant: "Were the signatures the same in your mind?"

"In my mind yes," he replied.

Mr Walker said that Mr Madani had told him that he supplied TV auction programmes, websites and a number of other shops.

He told the court that during a visit to Mr Madani's house he pointed to a man pictured on Manchester United's bus tour after they won the treble in 1999 and claimed it was his brother.

"He also showed me pictures of himself with football players and with his wife I think, so I did not have a problem," he added.

Memorabilia removed

Mr Walker told the court he had removed some signed England rugby memorabilia from his shop when he was contacted by Jonny Wilkinson's company telling him the signatures were fakes.

Earlier, the court heard a statement from the man Mr Madani had allegedly pointed to in the photograph, Armer Mouaffac Al Midani, who had been a director at Manchester United between 1986 and 2002.

Andrew Thomas QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Mr Madani had told a number of people that his brother was the former director.

In the statement read by Mr Thomas, Mr Midani said: "I can confirm that I am not related to a person called Faisal Madani. He is not my brother and he is not related to me or anyone with my family name."

Mr Madani faces 20 charges under the Trade Descriptions Act and the Trade Marks Act.

Mr Walker faces 53 similar offences, which also include those under the Theft Act, and fraudulent trading under the Companies Act.

The trial was adjourned until Tuesday.

Graeme Walker denies breaking Trade Descriptions Act

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