Nick Clark: Why is Suarez case any different?

 

John Terry's team-mate Ashley Cole told the Westminster Magistrates' Court that "we shouldn't be sitting here" and following the not-guilty verdict, the Crown Prosecution Service was forced to defend its decision to prosecute the Chelsea captain in the first place.

So why did Terry find himself in court when another high-profile case of alleged racism during last season's Premier League campaign was dealt with in-house by the Football Association?

The incident between Terry and Anton Ferdinand, which happened in October when Chelsea travelled to play Queen's Park Rangers, was handed to the CPS after a member of the public made a complaint. Terry was subsequently charged with a racially aggravated public order offence after the Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, Alison Saunders, advised the Metropolitan Police that he should be prosecuted.

She said in December: "I am satisfied there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute this case."

As in all criminal cases, the prosecution had to prove guilt "beyond all reasonable doubt". After the verdict, Saunders said the case had gone ahead as it was the CPS view that Terry's comment "was not 'banter' on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court".

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches by the FA and fined after a clash with Manchester United defender Patrice Evra, who alleged on French television that Suarez racially abused him "at least 10 times".

The independent commission's verdict rested, rather than "beyond reasonable doubt", on the "balance of probabilities", as in a civil case.

The Merseyside police decided against pursuing a case against Suarez as no complaints had been received by the public. While Suarez was fined £40,000, the maximum fine Terry could have faced if found guilty was £2,500; he would also have been saddled with a criminal record.

Yesterday's not-guilty verdict may not be the end of it for Terry, who could still face the same process from the FA as Suarez.

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