Two men were cleared yesterday of taking part in an attack at gunpoint on a football team director during a boardroom struggle at the Championship club Queens Park Rangers.

Gianni Paladini claimed that he was punched and threatened with a pistol after allegedly being ambushed by a fellow director and six other people in a takeover bid at the west London club, a court was told.

The Italian-born businessman said he was forced to sign a resignation letter handing over his shares in the club during a home match in August last year.

But a jury at London's Blackfriars Crown Court cleared club shareholder David Morris, 50, and John McFarlane, 39, of conspiracy to blackmail, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, charges that they had consistently denied.

It was alleged that Morris had asked Mr Paladini to go to the chief executive's office for a chat where they were joined by six other men. In shaky handwriting he wrote out a resignation letter, the court was told. At the time Mr Paladini owned a 14.7 per cent stake in QPR. He is now the club's chairman.

The jury are still deliberating on charges against four other defendants, Andy Baker, 40, of North Petherton, Somerset; Aaron Lacey, 36, of Watford; David Davenport, 38, from Chesham, Bucks and Michael Reynolds, 45, of north London.

All four deny conspiracy to blackmail, false imprisonment and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence.

A seventh defendant, Barry Powell, 34, of Greenford, Middlesex, was acquitted of all charges last month.

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