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28 March 2018, 12:31 | Updated: 28 March 2018, 12:36
The Chairman of Nottingham Forest has written an open letter to fans about the club's join owner - Evangelos Marinakis.
Nicholas Randall QC has reinstated his belief that the Greek "remains a fit and proper person" to lead the club in the future.
You can read the full letter here -
I wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of the latest developments in Greece regarding Mr Marinakis and to correct the misleading reports which have been circulating in some sections of the media about those developments.
In my letter to the Club’s supporters in June of last year I stated that if I had any personal doubts about the suitability of Mr Marinakis to be the owner of your football Club I would not have accepted the position of Chairman.
This statement remains as true today as it was then. I have no hesitation in confirming that I have no doubt at all that Mr Marinakis remains a fit and proper person to be the joint owner of Nottingham Forest Football Club.
The facts are clear and beyond doubt: Mr Marinakis has never been convicted of any criminal offence in any Court or Tribunal in any jurisdiction in the world.
You may recall that at the time of writing the first open letter there was one charge outstanding against Mr Marinakis. I informed you that I had seen the material in relation to that outstanding charge and that in my independent opinion it had no basis.
I am happy to confirm that on Monday the highest Court in Greece agreed and ruled that this outstanding charge had no basis in fact or in law and should be dismissed. As you will appreciate this decision of the highest independent Court in Greece represents a complete and total vindication of the position of Mr Marinakis.
It follows that every single one of the charges which had previously been brought against Mr Marinakis have been dismissed out of hand by the Greek Judicial Authorities.
It is highly relevant that these charges have been dismissed without even the need for evidence to be called because they had no proper or legitimate basis and should never have been brought. This is truly a set of circumstances in which not only has there been no fire but there has been no smoke either.
Immediately prior to the decision of the Court becoming public it was announced that an investigation would be opened into a drug smuggling case in Greece and an alleged link to Mr Marinakis.
The timing of the announcement is striking and represents an extraordinarily convenient opportunity for the political opponents of Mr Marinakis to deflect legitimate criticism arising from the decision of the Court which exposed the baseless nature of the charges previously laid against him.
It is important to clarify some points. First, contrary to misleading reports in the media, this matter is only at the stage of the opening of an investigation. There is no “charge” against Mr Marinakis and no “prosecution” is in process.
Secondly, there has already been a criminal trial relating to that case which concluded some time ago. That trial resulted in a number of convictions. The only previous mention of Mr Marinakis in relation to the affair was from an individual who asserted that he had been offered a substantial bribe by a third party to implicate Mr Marinakis in the events. The individual concerned refused to do so.
Finally, the events surrounding the case have not only been the subject of a criminal trial but have also been thoroughly investigated by the US law enforcement authorities. That investigation did not identify a shred of evidence to implicate Mr Marinakis in the affair.
As his personal statement makes clear Mr Marinakis maintains his innocence in relation to this further investigation in the most robust of terms. I have no hesitation whatsoever in accepting what he says. Indeed the material I have seen is only consistent with that conclusion and with no other.
It is often the case that when issues of character are at stake there are simple facts which are overlooked but which can be the most telling. I believe this to be the case here. Mr Marinakis has chosen to manage his businesses from London and New York. These are the most rigorous regulatory regimes in the world.
These are not, I would suggest, the actions of a man with something to hide.
I can assure you that the owners, myself and the other members of the Board are all adamant that we will not be deflected from our tasks by the individuals both at home and abroad who wish us to fail.
We will continue to press ahead with our agenda to reform the Club and to bring to its supporters the success which they deserve. The hard work behind the scenes continues and will shortly bear further fruit. I am happy to confirm that announcements are imminent regarding further fan engagement initiatives, substantial infrastructure projects and important collaborations with the Supporters Trust, the Forest Ladies and the Community Trust.
Aitor, Gary Brazil and the players in the first team and the Academy will continue to strive to be the best that they can be and to build a Club of which we can all be proud on the field of play also. I can assure you that Mr Marinakis is the central figure behind all these advances.
I hope that this letter has provided you with some clarity on these important issues. I also hope that it goes without saying that we remain indebted to you for your magnificent support which never ceases to inspire us.
Nicholas Randall Q.C