The essential tenet of British law that is the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” is struggling to assert itself in the 24/7 rolling news age.
The high profile cases of Chris Huhne and John Terry are but the latest manifestations of the struggle of trial by legal system to re-establish its primacy over trial by media. Chris Huhne is one of the few A-list performers the Lib Dems possess. He has been a successful journalist, businessman and politician, and is an able man. He is the senior Lib Dem “in the tent” who is most freely prepared to question his Coalition partners. That said, there is little doubt that the seriousness of the charge against him undermines his ability to remain in the Government under such a shadow.
John Terry has been, alongside Rio Ferdinand, the finest English central defender of his generation. He has an alpha male personality, but does that make him a fine captain? It works for Chelsea, where Jose Mourinho encouraged an “us against the world” mentality, but less obviously so for England, where a captain must unite, lead and inspire players of rival factions. There’s an air of playground bully about Terry, notably in the countless times he has led Chelsea players in ugly intimidation of a referee. One can only imagine the England camp’s atmosphere during the Wayne Bridge saga. It was clear then that Terry should lose the captaincy. His reinstatement was mystifying.
Terry’s alleged guilt in the Anton Ferdinand racism row is for a court to decide. But the foolishly lengthy wait for a decision has exacerbated matters, making him an even more divisive figure. In that regard, carrying on as normal, no matter the eventual verdict, is as impossible for Terry as it is for Chris Huhne. Stay warm, and see you on Monday.