BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 16:02 GMT
Ferdinand cleared of club assault
West Ham defender Anton Ferdinand
Anton Ferdinand said he was acting out of loyalty to a friend
Premier League footballer Anton Ferdinand has been cleared of assaulting a man outside a nightclub.

The West Ham defender admitted punching Emile Walker but told Snaresbrook Crown Court it was in self-defence, as he feared he was about to be mugged.

The incident took place outside the Faces nightclub in Ilford, east London, on 2 October last year.

Ferdinand, 22, denied a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm and one count of affray.

The player's friend, Edward Dawkins, 28, was also accused of a similar offence and was cleared by the jury.

You now leave without a stain on your character arising from it
Judge William Kennedy

During the trial Mr Dawkins, of Henry Adlington Close, Beckton, east London said he was defending a friend.

Addressing the pair after the verdict, Judge William Kennedy said: "This was an unfortunate incident for you both which is now at an end.

"You now leave without a stain on your character arising from it."

The player's brother, England and Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand, watched the proceedings from the public gallery.

'Lurid headlines'

After the hearing a spokesman for Ferdinand, Jerome Anderson, said the trial was a "traumatic and distressing time" for the footballer's family and friends.

"For over a year Anton had to remain silent and read lurid headlines of wrongdoing. Finally he can give his own account in his own words," said Mr Anderson.

"Anton made a split second decision to help a friend when a happy evening suddenly went wrong. This is the sort of person you need as a friend if you face danger," he added.

The footballer admitted striking the first blow after Mr Walker, 22, "eyeballed" his 64,000 watch then threatened a friend, the court heard.

But the jury was told no sooner had he been dragged away than up to 10 other men punched the "would-be robber" to the ground and kicked him repeatedly.

The jury trying the player, from Mottingham, south-east London, took just 90 minutes to accept he was acting in self-defence.

Jurors unanimously cleared him of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, affray, and alternative common assault and public order offences.



SEE ALSO
CCTV 'shows Ferdinand fighting'
12 Nov 07 |  London

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific