Chelsea captain John Terry has been found not guilty of racially abusing QPR’s Anton Ferdinand today. Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle delivered the verdict to a packed courtroom at the end of the week-long trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.
Terry was accused of calling the QPR centre-half a “fucking black cunt” during a Premier League match on October 23 last year.
He claimed he was sarcastically repeating a slur that Ferdinand mistakenly thought he had used, and denied a racially aggravated public order offence.
Explaining his verdict, Chief Magistrate Howard Riddle said the prosecution presented a strong case.
“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.”
The Chief Magistrate 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.”
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.”
The big question is what will the FA do now? If Terry has been found guilty, he would have automatically been suspended. But the court has found Terry innocent, even though by Terry’s own admission he accepts the words “fucking black cunt” were said by him.
Can the FA, who have mishandled this case from the beginning find Terry guilty of bringing the game into disrepute? And if they don’t, what will that say that say about the FA’s respect campaign?