By Tony Attwood
If you run a business and spend quite a bit of time dealing with other businesses, there is every chance that at some time or another you will have found yourself in an argument with an individual or a company that behaves utterly and totally unreasonably. They make a claim that is utterly preposterous, make absolute demands, refuse to negotiate, and spend a lot of time saying “we’ll see what the courts have to say about that,” and invent all sorts of ideas as to what should (in their eyes) have been going on.
The first time it happened to me I was utterly unprepared for the inventions, the lies, the arrogance, the complete disregard for honesty and common courtesy. Not knowing what was coming I uses a local solicitor but fortunately in this first case I sacked my lawyer half way through (even though it cost me a lot as he refused to hand over the papers to a new lawyer until I had paid his bills in full, despite his utter cock up) and we started again.
By the end of the case, which drifted on for months, I had got a hang of what was going on. Ultimately my adversary left the country suddenly, and there was the wonderful sight of his barrister standing up in court saying to the judge, “Sir, I have no instructions.” It took a moment for it all to sink in. He’d run, we’d won.
I was still shaken when I found myself embroiled in a second such case some ten years later, but at least this time I was able to use my past experience, and approach it with the understanding that the person I was dealing with was an utter liar, while the legal team and “expert” accountants were just happy to take the money. The key to it all is to know that there are people around who are actually not very bright, but who are used to bullshitting and getting away with it.
Of course I don’t have a clue what really went on in the Chelsea and Mourinho vs Dr Carneiro case which ended suddenly today, but I have to say I always took it that one side was creating all sorts of monumental tales (that is tall tales only bigger) in the hope the other party would ultimately give in. So I was doubtful that we would go the whole way – either one side would back down and settle to the other’s outrageous demands, or the bullshitter would recognise that he/she was going to be made to look a total idiot in court and would back out at the last minute.
So my guess is that all sides knew how it would turn out, each was waiting for the other party to blink.
But let me stress again, I have no inside knowledge on this case, however I can take a few guesses which you might or might not agree with.
First Dr Carneiro agreed the settlement with the Chelsea over the claim of constructive dismissal just before she was going to give testimony that the Guardian and other papers suggested “was expected to be highly damaging” to Chelsea, their manager and the club owner.
In cases of this nature, all parties exchange evidence before hand – it is not a case of suddenly someone springing a “surprise witness” like they used to do on American TV. Everyone knows what’s being presented to the employment tribunal, so that everyone can prepare themselves properly. This is why, as the rather dull and disjointed “legal expert” that Radio 5 employed this afternoon made the point that huge numbers of Employment Tribunals get settled in the corridors rather than in the courtroom.
So it looks to me as if Chelsea and Mourinho who blinked and backed down – or were ordered to back down – a suggestion that is given evidence by the fact that Chelsea apologised “unreservedly” to Dr Carneiro over the events that led to her departure, last August.
Chelsea went even further, so much further that “eating humble pie” hardly seems to capture the essence of events. For Chelsea’s statement said it now accepted that Dr Carneiro had done nothing wrong. That was of course self-evident, but it needed to be said so that it was on record. They added that that the doctor was a “highly competent and professional sports doctor”.
Now we also know that Dr Carneiro had been offered £1.2m to settle, and she had rejected it. That offer would have been “without prejudice” meaning that it did not affect Chelsea’s claims or position – it could not be seen as an admission of guilt. Without Prejudice offers can be made simply to get the case out of the way, because it is distracting from other matters.
But the fact that Dr Carneiro rejected the offer shows how confident she was in her case – another pointer to the fact that she was not on the bullshitting side, although of course that is only a conclusion of mine. I haven’t seen any of the papers.
Now the agreement means that we won’t have the court case, which would have made everything public. Indeed this is rather what I predicted when I wrote in March, “Maybe they are just taking it to the edge so that the good doctor will back off. I suspect she won’t.”
What we did get out of the case was Chelsea saying that, “Just 10 days prior to the hearing, [Dr Carneiro] … made a series of scandalous, irrelevant and untrue allegations for the very first time in her witness statement which she never complained about during her employment.”
Perhaps Chelsea realised that this too was not quite true. They also alleged that Dr Carneiro’s attitude to work had raised concerns. They said she was “increasingly pre-occupied with developing her profile”, and “secretly briefed against Chelsea to the media”. It was hard hitting stuff, and although most of us might feel that we could stand up to such aggression, day after day of it in court is a different matter.
“We wish to place on record that in running onto the pitch Dr Carneiro was following both the rules of the game and fulfilling her responsibility to the players as a doctor, putting their safety first.
“Dr Carneiro has always put the interests of the club’s players first. Dr Carneiro is a highly competent and professional sports doctors. She was a valued member of the club’s medical team and we wish her every success in her future career.
“Jose Mourinho also thanks Dr Carneiro for the excellent and dedicated support she provided as first team doctor and he wishes her a successful career.”
So there was a bit of give and take. Dr Carneiro pulled back from her demand for a personal apology from Mourinho, but she probably felt the rest of what she got was enough for everyone to read between the lines. Mourinho walks away not guilty of anything.
The question arises of course as to whether Man U regret offering a long term contract to a man who walked out of Chelsea the first time he was there, was sacked after taking Chelsea towards the relegation zone, and who has created a scene (which of course continued after the match via the Doctor’s demotion) and which finally led to an apology that I suspect many people who are not Chelsea fans will see as somewhat humiliating for Mourinho, Chelsea FC and its owner.
The FA also come out of this very badly in that they failed to interview Dr Carneiro even when they were investigating the affair. How can you investigate something like this, without interviewing the witnesses?
As Dr Carneiro said, “I was at no stage requested by the FA to make a statement. I wonder whether this might be the only formal investigation in this country where the evidence of the individuals involved in the incident was not considered relevant. Choosing to ignore some of the evidence will surely influence the outcome of the findings.
“Last season I had a similar experience at a game at West Ham FC, where I was subject to verbal abuse. Following complaints by the public, the FA produced a communication to the press saying there had been no sexist chanting during this game.
“At no time was I approached for a statement despite the fact that vile, unacceptable, sexually explicit abuse was clearly heard. It is incidents such as these and the lack of support from the football authorities that make it so difficult for women in the game.”
That accusation still weighs heavily against the FA. The tragedy is that they, I rather suspect like Mourinho, feel they have done nothing wrong.
- Does having top league scorer help you win the league? Here’s the stats…
- The Ivan Gazidis interview, what happens when a successful manager leaves, and do injuries determine success?
Untold Arsenal has published five books on Arsenal – all are available as paperback and three are now available on Kindle. The books are
- The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
- Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace. By John Sowman with an introduction by Bob Wilson.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football. By Tony Attwood, Andy Kelly and Mark Andrews.
- Making the Arsenal: a novel by Tony Attwood.
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal by Mark Andrews.
You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page