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Last Updated: Monday, 11 October, 2004, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Agent blackmail charges dropped
Anthony Bacon, John Hyland and Chris Bacon
Judge David Hale passed not guilty verdicts on the three accused
Wayne Rooney's agent Paul Stretford has been accused of misleading a court as charges were dropped against three men accused of blackmailing him.

The prosecution at Warrington Crown Court offered no more evidence against John Hyland, 42 and brothers Christopher, 34, and Anthony Bacon, 38.

John Hedgecoe, prosecuting, said new information showed Mr Stretford had misled the court.

He said documents revealed Mr Stretford poached Rooney earlier than he claimed.

We do not feel able to rely on Paul Stretford as a witness in this case
John Hedgecoe, prosecuting
Mr Hedgecoe told the court two documents were disclosed over the weekend which showed Mr Stretford made false statements while giving his evidence last week.

He said they showed Mr Stretford poached the England and Manchester United star in September 2002, not December as he told the court.

He said: "In the circumstances, and having seen those documents, in particular that one dated September 19, we do not feel able to rely on Paul Stretford as a witness in this case and in view of his importance as a witness to the way in which we have put this case from the outset, we have decided that the only appropriate course is to offer no further evidence."

Judge David Hale passed not guilty verdicts on all three men.

Paul Stretford
Paul Stretford insisted he had not poached the striker
After the case, Mr Hyland called for a review of the way football agents operate.

His solicitor, Peter Quinn, said: "This case has highlighted the need for a thorough inquiry and a new set of rules in connection with the relationship between football agents, players and their families, football clubs and football managers at all levels of the professional game."

The case centred on a business meeting Mr Stretford filmed secretly at a Warrington hotel in June, 2003.

He claimed Mr Hyland and the Bacon brothers tried to make him sign a contract splitting his Rooney profits 50-50.

Business wrangle

It followed a wrangle between Mr Stretford and business associates of Rooney's first agent, Peter McIntosh.

They believed Mr Stretford had poached Rooney as a client and should pay compensation.

Mr Stretford insisted he had not poached the young striker and had acted entirely honourably.

The disclosure of the new document revealed Stretford had been representing Rooney while he was still under contract with Mr McIntosh.

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08 Oct 04  |  Manchester
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05 Oct 04  |  Manchester
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04 Oct 04  |  Manchester

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