ENTERTAINMENT

The head of the phone company has recorded that call records have been paid for in Rio Ferdinand's drug test case.


The boss of an exclusive cellular company has reportedly boasted of how his company can change cellphone records for his wealthy customers – and claims that a Vodafone employee was paid thousands for Rio Ferdinand's phone records during an investigation into his missed drug test.

John Shepherd, who runs Sport Mobile, announced that a Vodafone employee was paid a secret payment of £ 20,000 for proof of a key to an FA investigation by the former Manchester United and England defender, the Times reports today.

As part of an undercover investigation, the paper also reports that Shepherd claimed that he helped Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley, who also owns Premiership club Newcastle United, during his civil struggle with a former business partner.

The Times reports that it understands that Mr. Ashley and Mr. Ferdinand categorically deny the bragging rights of Mr. Shepherd, who denies any wrongdoing and makes the allegations – which are believed to be included in an undercover record obtained from the Times.

MailOnline contacted representatives of all three men to comment, but had received no response this morning.

John Shepherd, who runs Sport Mobile, said a Vodafone employee was paid a secret payment of £ 20,000 for the evidence key for an FA investigation in Rio Ferdinand (pictured), the Times reports today

As part of a covert investigation, the newspaper also reports on Shepherd's claim that he helped Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley (pictured), who also owns Premiership club Newcastle United, in his civil struggle with a former business partner

As part of a covert investigation, the newspaper also reports on Shepherd's claim that he helped Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley (pictured), who also owns Premiership club Newcastle United, in his civil struggle with a former business partner

Part of the Times report relates to an incident in 2003 when Rio Ferdinand, then an England international and the most expensive Premier League defender – now the Premier League – missed a drug test in September this year.

Ferdinand claimed that he forgot the test during a move and went shopping, but later contacted the club to offer the test.

Two days later, he provided a sample – which turned out to be negative.

In December 2003, he was suspended for eight months, fined £ 50,000 and, after a two-day disciplinary hearing by the football association, sentenced to pay an estimated £ 250,000 for missing drug tests.

The independent tribunal found Mr. Ferdinand guilty of misconduct after failing to pass the test on the United training grounds in Carrington, although he had been selected to give a test to British sport's doping officials.

A central issue at the hearing and afterwards, however, was the defense attorney's use of a cell phone that he allegedly used to call the Manchester United team doctor. Questions were also raised as to whether his cell phone was on or off at that time.

In December 2003, Ferdinand (pictured 2002) was suspended for eight months, fined £ 50,000 and, after a two-day hearing from the football association, sentenced to pay an estimated £ 250,000 for missing drug tests

In December 2003, Ferdinand (pictured 2002) was suspended for eight months, fined £ 50,000 and, after a two-day hearing from the football association, sentenced to pay an estimated £ 250,000 for missing drug tests

A delay in the FA's receipt of Mr. Ferdinand's telephone record prompted FA officials to consider accusing the defense lawyer of intentionally avoiding a drug test.

The FA Tribunal's 37-page verdict, published 17 days after the panel's announcement of the ban, indicated that the panel did not believe that Mr. Ferdinand had simply forgotten the test.

Shepherd has now claimed to customers that a Vodafone employee was paid £ 22,500 for telephone records used in Mr. Ferdinand's case, the Times reports. However, the former representative of Mr. Ferdinand dismissed the claims as "brave".

Shepherd has now claimed to customers that a Vodafone employee was paid £ 22,500 for telephone records used in Mr. Ferdinand's case, the Times reports. However, the former representative of Mr. Ferdinand dismissed the claims as "brave".

Shepherd has now claimed to customers that a Vodafone employee was paid £ 22,500 for telephone records used in Mr. Ferdinand's case, the Times reports.

However, Mr. Ferdinand's former representative dismissed the claims as “brave”.

It is also reported that Mr. Shepherd has claimed to have "protected" phone records Mike Ashley was supposed to produce in a 2017 High Court fight with his former business partner Jeffrey Blue.

The case that Mr. Ashley had won was brought up by Mr. Jeffrey on allegations that Mr. Ashley had agreed to pay him £ 15m when his company's share price reached £ 8.

Mr. Ashley claimed that it was "kidding" and that no formal agreement had been made. A judge stood on his side and said that nobody thought that his comments were "serious".

During the case, Sports Mobile was asked to provide phone records for Mr. Ashley, but said that this was not possible.

Former employees and customers told The Times that they believed Sport Mobile's systems could be used to change billing information for other customers, while an industry expert said it was "easy" to change records on demand, it says in the paper.

(tagsToTranslate) Daily Mail (t) Sports (t) Football (t) Rio Ferdinand (t) Newcastle United (t) Manchester United