“Completely vindicated”? Well, not quite completely
Posted by John Beech on September 29, 2011
The press have been quick to quote Peter Ridsale as saying that he had been “completely vindicated” following the dropping of charges fraud brought against him by Cardiff Training Standards Department (see BBC and This is Plymouth for example).
In my book, in this case that fine arbiter of plain English, the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the primary definition of ‘vindicate’ is “clear of blame or suspicion“.
Undoubtedly he has been “completely vindicated” of ‘blame’ as the charges have been withdrawn, and he continues to be able to be a director of a football club. He can continue to weave his own brand of magic, honed at Leeds United, Barnsley and Cardiff City.
Whether he has been cleared of ‘suspicion’ is, in my opinion, not quite so clear-cut however. Further down in the press reports the reason the charges were dropped is revealed. A council spokesman is quoted thus: “On paper, there was a case to answer, however, the council has recently obtained further evidence from prosecution witnesses and taken the advice of a leading counsel. After a thorough analysis of this new evidence, and due to the reluctance of those supporters who raised concerns to provide witness statements, the council considered that a conviction after trial was unlikely. Consequently, the council has decided to discontinue the prosecution.“ In these circumstances it would seem likely that there will those who still harbour a suspicion, possibly including some at Cardiff Trading Standards Department, and so ‘complete vindication’ is an interesting use of the language.
To remove both ‘blame’ and ‘suspicion’ it can be argued that the case would have had to have gone to trial, and ‘not guilty verdicts’ returned for all three charges. Ridsdale had previously said “I will be vigorously rebutting the charges” (1). He must surely be ruing the fact that the charges were dropped, and he was denied his opportunity to have his cases heard and to be ‘completely vindicated’.