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England international accuses agent of acting dishonestly

Stewart Downing has accused his former agent of "siphoning off" thousands of pounds from his bank account. The Aston Villa and England international told a court that he left all business matters to his agent Ian Elliott, and would often sign papers without even reading them as he had complete trust in him.

However, the pair fell out in 2007 when Elliott went on a local radio station saying that Tottenham were interested in Downing when the player was happy at Middlesbrough.

Downing then checked his bank account and found only £11,000 in it, when he expected to find between £600,000 and £700,000.

It was claimed in court that Elliott took the money to help his failing business projects.

"I relied on him to do most things on the business side," Downing told the court.

Prosecutor Christopher Attwooll added: "The Crown allege the defendant dishonestly managed Stewart Downing's affairs for his own financial gain.

"He abused the trust put in him by manipulating the player's professional life and in doing so he siphoned off a lot of money into his own failing business projects."

It is also alleged that Elliott managed Downing's image rights, worth £1 million, and that he created a consultancy agreement that enabled him to take £100,000 per year, backdated to 2004.

Elliott denies all charges and the case continues.

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Dave Williams

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