Loud cheer from John Terry supporters after Chelsea captain is found not guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand

 

The Chelsea captain John Terry was found not guilty on his racial abuse charge by a court today.

District Judge Howard Riddle said that it was "a crucial fact that nobody has given evidence that they heard what Mr Terry said or more importantly how he said it" in relation to his accusation that he abused Anton Ferdinand during a game between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea in October last year.

There was a loud cheer from Terry's supporters in the public gallery when the verdict was delivered. Terry left the dock at Westminster magistrates' court immediately and the building soon after accompanied by his friends and family.

He was accused of calling Ferdinand a "f****** black c***" during a confrontation during the game. Terry admitted saying the words but claimed he was repeating them back sarcastically after Ferdinand had first falsely accused him of making the allegation.

Mr Riddle said that he agreed with the Crown's assertion that Ferdinand was "brave" to give evidence. He said that the QPR defender was a "believable witness on the central issue". Ferdinand had never claimed to have heard the insult on the pitch.

Explaining his verdict, Mr Riddle said the prosecution presented a strong case.

He said: "There is no doubt that John Terry uttered the words 'f****** black c***' at Anton Ferdinand.

"When he did so he was angry. Mr Ferdinand says that he did not precipitate this comment by himself, accusing Mr Terry of calling him a black c***.

"Even with all the help the court has received from television footage, expert lip readers, witnesses and indeed counsel, it is impossible to be sure exactly what were the words spoken by Mr Terry at the relevant time.

"It is impossible to be sure exactly what was said to him at the relevant time by Mr Ferdinand.

"It is not only that all of this happened in a matter of seconds.

"For a small part of the relevant time the camera's view of Mr Terry was obstructed.

"We do not have a clear camera view of Mr Ferdinand, sufficient to pick up exactly what he said.

"No matter how serious the incident looks now, and how crucial the exact wording is now, at the time it was secondary to the key witnesses.

"They are professional footballers in the final minutes of a game where the result mattered to them both.

"They would naturally concentrate on the game more than on exactly what had been said to them or by them.

"There was the noise of the crowd. There is the fact that towards the end of a game players are not only physically tired they are also mentally tired. I don't need evidence to tell me that.

"It is a crucial fact that nobody has given evidence that they heard what Mr Terry said or more importantly how he said it.

"He has given effectively the same account throughout. Insofar as there are discrepancies in his account, they are understandable and natural.

"He says that he was himself wrongly accused by Mr Ferdinand on the pitch of calling him a black c***.

"He has maintained that from the beginning.

"(Terry's team mate) Mr Ashley Cole has corroborated that it was mentioned to him during the game.

"There is no doubt that reasonably soon after the game he made the accusation to Mr Ferdinand. He confirmed that basic account in a statement on the evening of the match.

"He gave a very detailed account to the FA and later to the police. He gave evidence to that effect in this court.

"There have been minor discrepancies in the account.

"It seems likely that his belief that he was wrongly accused on the pitch has strengthened as time goes by, and I have discussed that above.

"However, his account has been subject to the most searching and thorough questioning on at least three occasions.

"Nobody has been able to show that he is lying. The lip readers do not provide evidence that categorically contradicts his account.

"What may at first sight have seemed clear to the non-expert, is less clear now.

"There are limitations to lip reading, even by an expert. I have assessed John Terry as a credible witness.

"Weighing all the evidence together, I think it is highly unlikely that Mr Ferdinand accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him a black c***.

"However, I accept that it is possible that Mr Terry believed at the time, and believes now, that such an accusation was made.

"The prosecution evidence as to what was said by Mr Ferdinand at this point is not strong.

"Mr Cole gives corroborating (although far from compelling corroborating) evidence on this point.

"It is therefore possible that what he said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him.

"In those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty."

The Crown Prosecution Service has defended the decision to prosecute the former England captain.

Alison Saunders, chief crown prosecutor for London, said: "The very serious allegation at the heart of this case was one of racial abuse.

"It was our view that this was not 'banter' on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court.

"The Chief Magistrate agreed that Mr Terry had a case to answer, but having heard all of the evidence he acquitted Mr Terry of a racially aggravated offence.

"That is justice being done and we respect the Chief Magistrate's decision."

Outside the court, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "Chelsea Football Club notes and, of course, we respect the decision of the magistrate today. We are pleased that John can now put his mind to football and go back to training and do what he's done for many years."

Dan Morrison, Terry's lawyer, said outside court: "The court has today acquitted John Terry of all charges.

"He has consistently explained his position to the FA, the police and to the court.

"He did not racially abuse Mr Ferdinand and the court has accepted this.

"John would like to thank his legal team for their hard work and his family, friends and Chelsea Football Club for their support."

Leaving court, Ferdinand's parents, Julian Ferdinand and Janice Lavender, who attended every day of the trial, declined to comment.

Mr Ferdinand said: "I have nothing to say to you at all."

News
Clare Balding
peopleClare Balding on how women's football is shaking up sport
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Sport
premier leagueMatch report: Arsenal 1 Man United 2
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Kirk Cameron is begging his Facebook fans to give him positive reviews
film
Life and Style
Small winemakers say the restriction makes it hard to sell overseas
food + drink
News
i100
Life and Style
fashionThe Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Sport
Tony Bellew (left) and Nathan Cleverly clash at the Echo Arena in Liverpool
boxingLate surge sees Liverpudlian move into world title contention
Voices
Neil Findlay
voicesThe vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
food + drinkMeat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin