Chelsea F.C. captain John Terry cleared of racial abuse charge

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In England, John Terry, captain of the Chelsea football team, has been found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence. Terry had been accused of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers (QPR) defender Anton Ferdinand, another football player, as a match between Chelsea and QPR was in progress.

File photo of John Terry from June 15, 2012.
Image: Ilya Khokhlov.

Terry, who had said he was "angry and upset" about the allegations, was alleged to have said the words "fucking black cunt" in an insulting manner to Ferdinand. During the trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Terry stated he had been repeating words Ferdinand had accused him of saying.

Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said that although there was "no doubt that John Terry uttered the words 'fucking black cunt' at Anton Ferdinand", the evidence for the prosecution's side was "not strong" and there was a possibility "that what [Terry] said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him." Therefore, "[i]n those circumstances, there being a doubt, the only verdict the court can record is one of not guilty", Riddle concluded.

Although Terry refused to make any comment as he departed from the court, some Chelsea F.C. supporters cheered him. Both of Ferdinand's parents also refused to comment, with his father Julian saying only: "I have nothing to say to you at all." As the verdict was declared, there was cheering in the court's public gallery.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Dan Morrison — John Terry's lawyer — stated Terry "consistently explained his position to the FA, the police and to the court." Terry "did not racially abuse Mr Ferdinand and the court has accepted this", Morrison said. Bruce Buck, the Chairman of Chelsea F.C., commented: "We are pleased that John can now put his mind back to football, return to training and do what he has been doing for many years."

Alison Saunders, London Chief Crown Prosecutor, justified the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to take this case to court by saying "[t]he very serious allegation at the heart of this case was one of racial abuse." The CPS believed "this was not 'banter' on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court", Saunders clarified. She called Terry's not guilty verdict "justice being done and we respect the chief magistrate's decision."

A spokesperson for the Football Association (FA) said the association "notes the decision in the John Terry case and will now seek to conclude its own inquiries". The FA intends to resume its inquiry into the events next week.