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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

"The Trial" - Gianni Paladini's Monday Testimony

The Sun -Chief weeps at QPR trial

SOCCER chief Gianni Paladini wept yesterday as he told a court how he was forced to sign over his club shares — with a gun pressed to his head.
The QPR chairman, 60, said he was punched and threatened with a pistol after being ambushed by fellow director David Morris and six thugs in a Sopranos-style takeover at the club’s London ground.
Referring to Morris, he said: “He slapped me twice. I was terrified.
“The gentleman next to me was saying: ‘Sign the paper. We’ll kill you.’ ”
The boss, whose style ruffled feathers, said one thug snarled: “We do this because we love QPR.”
He claimed he felt something pressing into his head, adding: “It could have been a finger, it could have been a gun.”
Mr Paladini told Blackfriars Crown Court that after he joined the board several directors had pocketed a £500,000 loan.
Asked if he ever threatened to kill club manager Ian Holloway, he replied: “In a funny way, yes, but it didn’t mean anything.”
Morris, 50, of Chalfont St Giles, Bucks, and six others deny blackmail, imprisonment and having a firearm. Trial continues. http://www.thesun.co.uk/article/0,,2-2006210214,00.html

The Mirror - 9 May 2006
SIGN OR DIE..CAPICHE? Rival 'forced QPR boss to quit'
By Adrian Shaw

A FOOTBALL club boss yesterday told a court he was forced to sign a resignation letter at gunpoint by a boardroom rival and his hired thugs.
QPR director Gianni Paladini, 60, said he was handed the letter by David Morris and six henchmen after a fall-out over the way the Championship club was run.
The Italian-born tycoon sobbed as he told the court the thugs surrounded him in an office at the club, punching and slapping him be fore one pulled a pistol.
He added: "A man at the back of me told me 'Come on, sign. Sign or we'll kill you.'
"A man standing next to me said 'We are serious people, we don't mess about.' He tried to use Italian saying, 'Capiche?' That means do you understand?
"Something was pressed into my head which I thought might be a gun while the man next to me punched me in the stomach.
"I just signed. I didn't want to take any more."
Mr Paladini said he was taken to the office by Morris for a chat about shares minutes before QPR kicked off against Sheffield United. But the six men, described as "hired muscle" burst in, Black-friars crown court heard.
After Mr Paladini signed the letter, Morris allegedly told him: "The boys will teach you now what life is all about."
The court heard that the terrified dad-of-two was then repeatedly slapped and punched.
Morris and several other men were later arrested in one of the club's executive boxes.
Mr Paladini, an ex-player turned agent, had sunk around £600,000 into the cash-strapped West London side and was the majority shareholder.
But he had a series of bitter clashes with other board members, including Morris.
Morris, 50, and six other men deny conspiracy to black-mail, false imprisonment and possessing a firearm. The trial continues. a.shaw@mirror.co.uk

THE TIMES May 09, 2006
QPR boss in tears as he tells of attackBy Steve Bird
QPR football director tells court how he was ordered to resign

A DIRECTOR of Queens Park Rangers Football Club broke down in tears yesterday as he told a jury how he was held at gunpoint and ordered to resign and give up his £600,000 stake in the club.
Gianni Paladini, 60, wept as he explained how he thought that he was going to be shot dead or thrown out of a window in the boardroom ordeal.
Blackfriars Crown Court was told that the hostage situation, likened to a scene from the television gangster series The Sopranos, resulted in armed police raiding an executive box at the West London club.
The Italian businessman, now the chairman of QPR, said that he had taken his family to see his team play Sheffield United at Loftus Road stadium, Shepherds Bush, last August when the attack happened.
He said that David Morris, 50, a director at the club, asked to have a chat before kick-off in the chief executive’s office. There, he said, six well-built men entered the room. One placed a gun on the table and another pushed something, possibly another pistol, into the back of his head.
Mr Paladini said: “I knew that I was in trouble. Mr Morris completely changed his attitude. He slapped me twice. He became aggressive and took some papers and said he wanted me to sign them. The man sitting next to me said, ‘We will kill you’. The other guy said: ‘We are serious people, we don’t mess about’ . . . I started to panic when the other man took a gun out of his pocket. I thought: ‘That’s it’.”
Mr Paladini was accused of threatening Mr Morris’s family, and was punched in the stomach. “They took some blank paper and wanted me to sign,” Mr Paladini continued. “David Morris dictated to me what to put on the paper. They were shouting: ‘I will kill you now’. There was all kinds of panic.”
Mr Paladini said that he was ordered to address the letter to Bill Power, then the chairman of the club. “I did sign it. I didn’t want to take any more. At one point the big fellow at the back opened the window and I thought they were going to throw me out of it,” he said.
“David Morris then said, ‘The boys will now teach you what life is all about’.” He said that he was punched and led from the room, when his son, Stephen, was seen walking towards them. One of the gang threatened to break Stephen’s neck unless he left, Mr Paladini said. Moments later Mr Paladini ran into the chairman’s lounge, and raised the alarm.
The prosecution says that Mr Morris hired Andrew Baker, 40, to provide five men to force Mr Paladini to resign as a director and sell his shares.
During half-time, armed police raided the executive box and arrested Mr Morris, Mr Baker, Aaron Lacey, 37, Barry Powell, 34, and John McFarlane, 39. A resignation note in Mr Paladini’s writing and £7,000, said to be the wages for the “heavies”, were also found. David Davenport, 38, and Michael Reynolds, 45, were arrested leaving the ground.
Mr Morris, from Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, Mr Baker, from North Petherton, Somerset, Mr Lacey, from Watford, Mr McFarlane, from Hayes, and Mr Powell, from Greenford, both West London, Mr Reynolds, from Wood Green, North London, and Mr Davenport, from Chesham, Berkshire, all deny possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, false imprisonment and conspiracy to blackmail.
Mr Paladini will be cross-examined today http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,200-2171240,00.html

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