Newcastle United have lost a High Court challenge over the seizure of documents by tax officials investigating the financial affairs of several football clubs.

St James’ Park and West Ham United’s ground were raided in April by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as part of a probe into suspected income tax and National Insurance fraud.

Newcastle’s managing director, Lee Charnley, whose home was also searched, was among a number of senior European football officials arrested and later released without charge.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley, left, with director Mike Ashley (Owen Humphreys/PA)Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley, left, with director Mike Ashley (Owen Humphreys/PA)

Business and financial records were seized, as well as computers and mobile phones belonging to the club, which recently secured promotion to the Premier League.

The HMRC investigation centres on football agents and payments made in transfer dealings between English and French clubs.

Two judges, sitting in London on Wednesday, rejected a challenge by Newcastle over the legality of search-and-seize orders obtained by HMRC from a judge at Leeds Crown Court.

Announcing the decision to dismiss the club’s application for judicial review, Lord Justice Beatson and Mrs Justice Whipple ruled: “The warrants were lawfully issued.”

West Ham United's ground was raided by HMRC in April as part of a probe into suspected income tax and National Insurance fraud (Yui Mok/PA)West Ham United’s ground was raided by HMRC in April as part of a probe into suspected income tax and National Insurance fraud (Yui Mok/PA)

At a hearing in July, the judges heard argument on behalf of the club that no reasonable grounds existed for believing it had engaged in suspected tax fraud.

But HMRC argued in court that reasonable grounds existed for believing Newcastle United FC was ”knowingly involved” in a multimillion-pound tax fraud when club offices were raided.

Court orders have so far prevented HMRC officers from examining the seized material pending the outcome of the legal action.

In a statement, a spokesman for HMRC said: “HMRC is pleased that the court agreed these warrants were lawful and justified in this case, and rejected each of the five grounds for which the review was sought.

“Our investigation into suspected tax fraud continues.”

The club said: “We are disappointed with this decision given the court’s findings. We are considering all of our options with our advisers, including whether to pursue an appeal.”