Terry cleared of racially abusing Ferdinand as Chelsea captain is found not guilty in race trial
14:55 GMT, 13 July 2012
John Terry has been found not guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence involving Anton Ferdinand.
Terry was charged after he was seen mouthing the words 'f****** black c***' in Ferdinand's direction during Chelsea's defeat against QPR at Loftus Road on October 23 last year.
When the verdict from Senior District Judge (Chief Magistrate) Howard Riddle arrived, Terry
simply nodded in response.
He soon left the court expressionless and did not make any comment before being taken away in a waiting car.
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.
Free man: John Terry walks out of court after being cleared of the charges
Judgement day: John Terry arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court on Friday afternoon
Read the full ruling…
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'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.'
Giving his verdict, Mr Riddle said the case was not about 'whether Mr Terry is a racist in the broadest sense of the word'
He said he had heard a great deal of
evidence to show that he is not. 'It is understandable why Mr Terry
wants to make this point, his reputation is at stake,' he said.
A statement from the Crown Prosecution Service read: '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.'
Result: Chelsea fans celebrate Terry's not guilty verdict outside the courthouse
Spotlight: Anton Ferdinand was at Heathrow Airport on Friday for QPR's flight to the Far East
Arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court, Terry received shouts of encouragement as well as boos from members of the public gathered outside.
He entered the dock at just before
2pm wearing a grey suit with a grey tie. Family members of both Terry
and Ferdinand were in a packed gallery to hear the verdict delivered.
Terry is now expected to fly away on holiday with his family before returning for pre-season training with Chelsea ahead of the new Barclays Premier League season.
Speaking outside the court, Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck – who has been in court every day – 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.'
A club statement read: 'Chelsea Football Club notes and respects Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle's decision to clear John Terry of the charge against him. We are pleased that John can now focus on football and his pre-season preparations with the team.'
Explaining his verdict, Mr Riddle 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***.
Big day: Terry and his team arrive at court by a scrum of photographers
'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.
Clash: Terry (right) and Anton Ferdinand exchanged words when Chelsea visited QPR
'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.'
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.'