Commission: Suarez and LFC should have slaughtered Evra's character in advance, not after the fact

By Brendan Leary on Jan 1, 12 10:03 AM in Columnists

There are a number of errors of logic and construction in the FA Commission's report on the Suarez guilty verdict.

But above all else, Liverpool fans (and perhaps Suarez's representatives and LFC itself) should appreciate the following about the Commission's detailed written finding:

1) The FA's case and Commission's finding hinges on Evra's testimony being held to be superior to Suarez's testimony: "the heart of this case is a dispute between Mr Evra and Mr Suarez as to what was said" (para 215)

2) The Commission's reasoning raises four factors relevant to resolving factual disputes: witness demeanor, inconsistency, probabability and credit. (para 209)

3) "Credit" would include acting "dishonestly or unreliably" in a situation other than that presently under consideration. (para 212)

4) A previous FA finding speaks directly to Evra's lack of "credit"; specifically, the FA itself has held their key witness to have previously provided "exaggerated and unreliable" testimony in another matter (the Stamford Bridge melee).

5) But the Commission performs a neat sidestep to avoid this: "our decision is based solely on the evidence and arguments presented to us at the hearing" (para 225).

6) As Suarez's defence did not specifically refer to the previous FA finding on Evra's testimony, the Commission has opted not to consider it.

In effect, the Commission avoids what surely would be a telling blow against Evra's credibility and the FA's case by saying to Suarez and LFC: you should have slaughtered Evra in your submission, not in your statement after the release of our verdict.

It may well be the case that the Suarez defence team believed it would be be "ungentlemanly" or "not the Liverpool way" to go in too hard on Evra, or that the Commission would necessarily consider the FA's own previous hearings. Were it the latter, it seems a reasonable presumption to make.

I'm no lawyer, but the Suarez Commission have chosen to ignore a finding of the previous FA investigation into the Stamford Bridge melee that speaks to a critical aspect of the current case.

On face value, this would appear a quite staggering failure of natural justice and jurisprudence, if not a result that is outright contrived.

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