As a central defender for Chelsea and England, John Terry has faced down some of the most famous footballers in the world – but in Court One at Westminster Magistrates Court yesterday he was up against a very different kind of opponent.
With his Scottish accent and quick-fire delivery, Duncan Penny, the prosecutor in Mr Terry's trial, sounds like Malcolm Tucker, the fearsome spin doctor from The Thick of It. Like Mr Tucker, Mr Penny is not afraid of deploying industrial language. "Have you been called an English c***?" Mr Penny asked. "Yes," replied Terry. "White c***?" Mr Penny asked. "No," replied Terry.
With his hands clasped in front of him and wearing a dark suit and tie, Mr Terry scarcely took his eyes off his inquisitor other than to pour himself water. "Common or garden swear words [in football], 'c***', 'p****', 'f***'?" Mr Penny asked. "That's normal isn't it?" "Yes," replied Terry.
When he was being questioned by his own counsel, George Carter-Stephenson QC, Terry was asked to raise his voice so he could be heard in the court. But later he seemed to warm to Mr Penny's front-foot approach and increased in confidence the longer his cross-examination went on.
At one point, Terry was asked whether he was frustrated during the game when he is alleged to have abused Anton Ferdinand last November. Mr Penny said: "You were under pressure in the [Premier League] title race...", to which Terry replied sharply: "I think we were joint top at the time." (Actually, Chelsea were in third place, three points off leader Man City.)
Later, Mr Penny pointed out that Terry had made a gesture in the same game to suggest the QPR goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was "fat". "That's a characteristic that marks him out from you, isn't it?" Mr Penny asked.
"I have been called it too," Mr Terry responded. "But you're a supreme athlete," Mr Penny said. "I used to be," Terry replied with a smile.
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