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10 fatal flaws in the FA disciplinary panel's ruling on John Terry.
It runs to 63 pages, and is the FA's justification of its findings. But the panel's written ruling is a flawed document containing errors and inconsistencies.
1. It states as fact Terry and Ashley Cole met Anton Ferdinand 'approximately one hour after the match ended'. Documentary evidence in court proved the team had left by then.
2. There is reference to 'Mr Ferdinand's wife'. He is unmarried.
3. There is no adequate explanation of why Terry was charged under FA rules while Ferdinand, who admitted having breached them, wasn't.
4. The FA's burden of proof required reference to the seriousness of the accusations. It is perverse a matter deemed by the criminal justice system to require a 'beyond reasonable doubt' yardstick, be judged upon using anything but that.
5. In reasoning on the FA's rule 6.18 (on the primacy of findings in previous tribunals), the panel goes on a meandering run across the face of the defence, attempting to pick-out the one threadneedle route by which they might reach their intended target. This is not only bad law, it is also an irrational conclusion setting a bizarre precedent.
6. The panel takes the view that because Ferdinand wasn't cross-examined during the FA hearing, all evidence was accepted unchallenged. A position ignoring cross examination of Ferdinand in court.
7. The panel emphasises Terry's use of profanities to infer malice. These are the same words three professional footballers told the criminal court were a part of the general punctuation of speech within Premier League matches.
8. The panel's belief an innocent Terry would confront Ferdinand at full time, rather than applaud his own fans, misapprehends the character he has displayed over the last 14 years.
9. A section headed 'the Barcelona evidence' compares Terry's initial reported denial of kneeing Alexis Sanchez in Camp Nou, with his latter admission. The panel takes certain inferences from this, despite having been unable to prove the existence of the initial denial. Indeed, having listened back to interviews from that night, I cannot find any evidence of an initial denial.
10. The panel sets stall by the 'evolution of Cole's evidence. It is normal for witness statements in criminal proceedings to evolve in this way. Changes are to be expected given Cole's evidence was based on notes of the FA's investigating team, and not a tape recording.
Taken together these flaws demonstrate that the FA panel was both slapdash and irrational in its approach to this case.