UK & World News
John Terry Found Not Guilty Of Racist Abuse
Chelsea captain John Terry has been found not guilty of racially abusing fellow footballer Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League game.
Loud cheers could be heard from the public gallery and the defendant jerked his head downwards as the verdict was delivered at Westminster Magistrates' Court.
Chief Magistrate Howard 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 the 31-year-old is not.
"It is understandable why Mr Terry wants to make this point, his reputation is at stake," he said.
"It is a crucial fact that nobody has given evidence they heard what Mr Terry said or more importantly how he said it."
Looking impassive, Terry was escorted by aides past the media scrum as he left the court.
He made no comment but was cheered by a small group of Chelsea supporters as he was driven away.
Terry had been charged with a racially-aggravated public order offence against the QPR defender, who is the brother of Manchester United defender Rio.
One of the best paid players in the Premier League, he was accused of using the phrase "f****** black c***" as an insult.
He denied the claims, saying that he was sarcastically repeating a slur that Ferdinand mistakenly thought he had used.
Explaining his verdict, Mr Riddle said the prosecution presented a strong case.
He 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***.
"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."
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."
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck said: "We are pleased that John can now put his mind back to football, return to training and do what he has been doing for years."
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."
Alison Saunders, London's chief crown prosecutor said the Crown Prosecution Service respected the magistrate's decision.
"The very serious allegation at the heart of this case was one of racial abuse," she said.
"It was our view that this was not 'banter' on the football pitch and that the allegation should be judged by a court."
The Football Association said it has "noted the decision in the John Terry case" and will "now seek to conclude its own inquiries".