Sam Kerr.
Lawyers for Sam Kerr will look to have her racial harassment charge in the UK downgraded or dropped. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS
  • soccer

Kerr lawyers argue abuse of process in harassment case

Steve Larkin March 6, 2024

Sam Kerr’s lawyers will seek to have her racial harassment charge dropped next month as football powerbrokers close ranks around the Matildas captain.

Kerr has pleaded not guilty in a London court to racially aggravated harassment of a police officer.

The global football star’s lawyers will argue an abuse of process at a pre-trial hearing on April 26 and seek to have the charge downgraded or dropped, according to court documents cited by multiple UK media outlets.

The April hearing comes ahead of trial slated for next February.

The Matildas and Chelsea striker is charged with using insulting, threatening or abusive words that caused alarm or distress to PC Lovell during an incident in Twickenham on January 30 last year.

Sam Kerr.
 Sam Kerr celebrates a goal for Chelsea in this season’s Women’s Champions League. Image by AP PHOTO 

“The charge relates to an incident involving a police officer who was responding to a complaint involving a taxi fare,” the UK’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement.

Harassment convictions in the UK can include a sentence of up to two years in custody when the offence is racially or religiously aggravated.

Kerr was charged on January 21 this year with the time period between the incident and charge being laid understood to be central to her legal team’s abuse of process claim.

Football Australia (FA) chief executive James Johnson on Tuesday said Kerr didn’t inform the sport’s hierarchy of the “very serious” charge.

Johnson said he had contacted Kerr to seek an explanation regarding the “unsettling event”.

On Wednesday, the FA declined to comment further.

Kerr’s manager, her English club Chelsea and England’s Football Association have also refused to comment on the controversy engulfing Australia’s highest-profile sportswoman.

Johnson and Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson on Tuesday both said they were unaware of Kerr facing court until stories surfaced in the media.

Tony Gustavsson.
 Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson answers questions in Sydney regarding Sam Kerr. Image by Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS 

“That is when Football Australia found out about this unsettling event,” Johnson told reporters.

“We are trying to get to the bottom of it … we have got our own questions that we’d like to know (answers to), we have got to find out what actually happened.

“But we also want to say that there is a process that is under way in the United Kingdom and that process needs to run its course.”

Johnson said it was too early to determine if the controversy would impact on Kerr’s tenure as Matildas captain, a position she has held since February 2019.

Gustavsson offered his support to Kerr.

“I was informed this morning and obviously was surprised,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

“The only thing I can comment on is my experience and interaction with Sam as a person, as a footballer, and I have only positive experiences.

“FA was very clear in terms of supporting our players on and off the field … I will, as a human being, always support.”