8 Things I learned from the John Terry decision

By Peter Alegi | July 13th, 2012 6 Comments

On Friday, Howard Riddle, Senior District Judge in the Westminster Magistrates’ Court, found Chelsea captain John Terry not guilty of racially abusing Queen’s Park Rangers Anton Ferdinand. Here are eight things I learned by reading Judge Riddle’s decision:

1. “There is no doubt that John Terry uttered the words ‘fucking black cunt’ at Anton Ferdinand” (p.13).

2. TV footage unequivocally demonstrates that “Terry directed the words ‘black cunt’ in the direction of Anton Ferdinand” (p.3).

3. In a statement to the English FA Terry 5 days after the incident, remembered saying to Ferdinand “I think it was something along the lines of, ‘You black cunt, you’re a fucking knobhead'” (p.10).

4. Lip reading experts are amazing people who do important work, but this doesn’t mean much in the big picture.

5. Terry said what he said in the heat of the game and was angry, physically and mentally tired (pp.13-14). Seriously.

6. Give money to a charity in Africa: it’s a great alibi (as Elliot Ross explains here).

7. That nobody on the pitch claims to have heard Terry calling Ferdinand a “fucking black cunt” at the time and that “there are limitations to lip reading” [p. 14]) was used to obfuscate the undisputed factual evidence of the video footage.

8. The “not guilty” verdict reflects tortuously twisted logic. The decision seems to hinge on the possibility that Terry hurled the insult at Ferdinand only after the latter had “accused Mr Terry on the pitch of calling him a black cunt” (p. 14). “It is therefore possible,” Judge Riddle concludes, “that what he said was not intended as an insult, but rather as a challenge to what he believed had been said to him” (p. 15). So let me see if I understand this legal reasoning correctly: it is not racially abusive speech to call a black person a “fucking black cunt” if it’s in response to an accusation of calling you a fucking black cunt. Huh?

As @NutmegRadio eloquently tweeted: “The John Terry verdict now stands as a how-to-guide for how to escape a racially aggravated public order offense in the UK.”


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Julian Ammirante

July 13th, 2012 | 10:11 am    

The double standard is staggering – re: Luis Suarez.

Melissa Forbis

July 13th, 2012 | 10:36 am    

This is great Peter, thanks.

I remember pundits arguing for racial abuse charges saying “Suarez has lived here long enough to understand our cultural standards.” I believe those standards are “it’s not racial abuse if you’re a famous rich white English footballer.”


July 13th, 2012 | 11:23 am    

Absolutely spot on Julian and Melissa. It is extraordinary how on the one hand Riddle gave Terry every possible benefit of the doubt (in spite of the facts), while on the other hand the FA Report on Suarez (full text here: http://bit.ly/NhnBrn) based its judgment almost entirely on Evra’s word while it denied the Uruguayan any benefit of any doubt.

Ben Dettmar

July 13th, 2012 | 12:20 pm    

Whatever you think of John Terry, and most people quite rightly have a very low opinion of him, given the evidence presented there was no way he was going to be found guilty. Nobody heard or saw him say it at the time and the only complaint came from an off-duty cop and is based on video footage that does not have the full context of what happened. The case should never have been heard.

Whether the Suarez decision was correct or not has no bearing on this case.

Terry lost the England captaincy and has been falsely labeled a racist, Anton Ferdinand was pushed into given evidence by Rio and his team of advisors, footballers are made out to look like a bunch of idiot schoolboys, and the courts wasted a tonne of money and time – nobody came out of this well.

Blogger’s Digest « The True Ball

July 19th, 2012 | 3:42 am    

[…] Football Is Coming Home: The brilliant Peter Alegi gives his take on the decision in the John Terry racism case. […]

Solomon Waliaula

July 22nd, 2012 | 8:06 am    

It is the paragon of double standards. It is obvious to everyone (except perhaps the English themselves) that their society is very hypocritical on the issue of racism. They are, in my humble opinion, the most racist society, because their racism is disguised. It is the classic case of preaching anti-racism water while drinking straight from the bottle of racism.

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