When you’re in a hole, stop digging?

When you’re in a hole, stop digging?

By Legal Weasel, a sometimes controversial contributor to matters of law and morality.


One of the oldest and most venerable maxims in the Law is Ubi in foramine es, desiste fodere.

Or, to put it in the vernacular, when you’re in a hole, stop digging. 

The Legal Weasel was reminded of this maxim by the plight of Chelsea Football Club.     In so far as being European Champions and top of the Premier League can be called a plight at all, that is.   But the club’s on the field success stands in stark contrast to the off the field standing of the club and some of its players. Consider…..

Despite being acquitted by the Magistrates’ Court,Chelsea’s captain, John Terry, has been found guilty by the FA of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.  The Tribunal’s judgement suggests that Terry has been less than truthful in his account, and Terry appears to have felt he had no option but to (pre-emptively) end his own England career.

Not only that, but the contagion has spread to Ashley Cole.   The Tribunal’s judgement questions his integrity too.    And he has just had to plead guilty to an FA misconduct charge.

Not only that, but the contagion has spread to one of the club’s officials who effectively stands accused by the FA of helping to falsify evidence.

There may be further proceedings.   And the club has been roundly condemned in the national press.  

John Terry admits using the words “fucking black cunt” to Anton Ferdinand.   Since the footage of him saying as much is all over YouTube, you may feel that he’s not got much choice but to admit it.   But, had he come out after the match and said:  “I apologise.  In the heat of the moment, when I was feeling angry, I used words that were totally inappropriate to Anton Ferdinand.  They weren’t meant, they were said in the heat of the moment, but words like that have no place in football.  I’m ashamed that I used them, I’ve let myself and Chelsea Football Club down, and I’ve apologised in person to Anton and I do so again to Chelsea and QPR and to all their fans” one suspects that it would have been the end of the matter.   Terry might even have been given some credit for his frankness.   He might still be England captain, and the media would have moved on to the next unacceptable remark from a footballer, which Joey Barton would no doubt have provided within a matter of days if not hours.  Ubi in foramine es, desiste fodere.   But, no.   Someone, somewhere presumably advised both Terry and the club that there was merit in a defence that Terry was only using the words to explain that he hadn’t used them.   As you do.   This is the equivalent of coming home to find that a burglar has broken into your house, only to find that the burglar, when arrested and brought to trial, says  “No, no, I wasn’t breaking and entering.    I was just passing the house, minding my own business, when someone suggested that you might have thought I was about to break into your house, so obviously, I had to break in, in order to explain that I wasn’t going to”.    And off the whole circus went; Terry’s denial, refused handshakes, YouTube footage of Terry using the words being scrutinised all over the planet, the removal of the England captaincy from Terry, Fabio Capello’s resignation (well, it’s an ill wind…..), a narrow escape in front of the Magistrates (who expressed doubt about Terry’s conviction), message boards thick with debate about whether Terry is a racist, the FA verdict, and the end of Terry’s England career (and maybe Rio Ferdinand’s as well, in a kind of collateral damage).   As a way of containing the damage, this strategy was marginally less effective than Norwich City’s defence was in the Canaries 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Chelsea last weekend.

Yet the Legal Weasel heard today that the lawyers are considering another challenge on Terry’s behalf.

Don’t they get it?   He said the words.  The footage is all over the web.   Hole.   Spade.   Desist.


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About Legal Weasel
A sometimes controversial contributor to matters of law and morality.

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