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Ex-champ up in court; CAGE FIGHTER ACCUSED OF LYING TO CLAIM pounds 85K IN TAX CREDITS.

Byline: By KERRY WOOD

HARDENED cage fighter Ian 'The Machine' Freeman has appeared in court to face tax fraud charges.

Freeman, who has battled some of the world's most fearsome men, appeared before Consett magistrates yesterday.

He was joined his wife Angela, 33, who with him faces a charge of fraudulently claiming tax credits.

The 41-year-old, of Badger's Wood, Stanley, County Durham, is accused of lying to claim more than pounds 85,000.

During the brief hearing, Freeman was represented by Ms Julien.

No pleas were entered. It is alleged the former Ultimate Fighting World champion and his wife falsely claimed tax credits of pounds 13,993.

The dad-of-three is also accused of fraudulently evading pounds 66,309 in income tax and pounds 7,781 in national insurance.

The court was yesterday told he faces a third charge of giving false salary details to secure a pounds 250,000 mortgage.

Chairman of the bench Mr Ferguson committed the cases to Durham Crown Court after magistrates declined jurisdiction at an earlier hearing in April.

HM Revenues and Customs investigators probed Freeman's finances back to 1997, but the charges against him relate to the three years leading up to his arrest last August.

Freeman was crowned World Champion in 2001, when he defeated Russian Stanislav Nashik in Austria.

His other triumphs include two British Cage Rage Championships and an Intercontinental Championship.

Freeman recently came out of retirement for a string of bouts in New Zealand.

Following yesterday's hearing, Freeman and his wife were released on unconditional bail.

They are due to appear at Durham Crown Court on July 11.

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FRAUD CHARGES: Ian 'The Machine' Freeman
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jun 6, 2008
Words:275
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