Former England captain John Terry has been cleared of racially abusing Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand.

Terry, 31, faced a charge of racially aggravated assault following claims he called Ferdinand a "f*****g black c**t" in a match between QPR and Chelsea at Loftus Road in October.

Chief magistrate Howard Riddle said: "The issue for the court to decide is not whether John Terry is a racist in the broadest sense of the word.

"The issue is whether Mr Terry uttered the words f*****g black c**t as an insult. If he did, the offence is made out.

"Overall,l I found Anton Ferdinand to be a believable witness on the central issue.

"The prosecution has built a strong case. The question is whether the defence has established a doubt.

"Even with all the help received, it is impossible to be sure exactly what were the words spoken by John Terry at the relevant time.

John Terry
Terry was found not guilty of a racially aggravated offence.

"Terry was angry when he said "f*****g black c**t" to Ferdinand but it is impossible to say exactly what the exact words were.

"It is a crucial fact that nobody has given evidence about what Mr Terry said or how he said it. John Terry's account has been subject to the most thorough questioning. Nobody has been able to prove he is lying. He is a credible witness."

Allegations of racial abuse were reported to police 48 hours after the game. It was revealed in February that Terry would stand trial for the public order offence, a charge that saw him stripped of the England captaincy by the Football Association.

During the trial the prosecution alleged that Terry had shouted the racial remark in the direction of Ferdinand after being riled by the QPR defender.

The defence claimed that Terry had misheard Ferdinand insulting the Chelsea player and that the obscenity was merely in reply.

International and club teammate Ashley Cole was called as a witness. He said he had seen Ferdinand shout the alleged remark at Terry. In a written statement 19 Chelsea players and former manager Jose Mourinho supported Terry's good character.

Alison Saunders, Chief Crown Prosecutor for London, said: "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 mMagistrate's decision."

Kick It Out founder Lord Ouseley said: "We respect the verdict, the judgment is what it is. I'm glad for the players it is over.

"The language in this case reflects on the sport badly because there are eight million people who play it in this country. We do not get this behaviour in women's football or disabled football.

"They are role models and they have to behave better."