As Manchester United conduct an internal investigation into Mason Greenwood’s suitability to return to the field of play, The Athletic have revealed more details about the situation under review.
Greenwood was arrested on suspicion of attempted rape and assault in February last year after his girlfriend posted video and audio recordings that suggested he had attacked her. He was subsequently charged and the club suspended him while the investigation continued.
According to The Athletic, a CPS spokesperson said “a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.”
The woman in question dropped her charges against Greenwood in April, leaving the case much harder for the CPS to prove.
It was also revealed in court that Greenwood had consistently breached his bail conditions and there was some criticism of the Greater Manchester Police for not enforcing them.
“Acting for Greenwood, barrister David Toal said his client had answered questions during police interviews, provided passwords for phones and surrendered his passport but had breached his bail conditions “for many months”.
“District Judge Mark Hadfield, called it a “flagrant breach” of bail and criticised police for doing “nothing” about it.”
According to The Athletic, “Rebecca Jane Macaulay-Addison, prosecuting, countered: ‘There is a vulnerable complainant who now wants to retract her complaint.’”
The suggestion is that because GMP did nothing to stop Greenwood contacting the woman, it may have allowed him to do something to cause her to retract the complaint.
In theory, that could mean threatening her, persuading her or buying her off.
The Athletic go on to cite a legal expert who says if United want to terminate Greenwood’s contract, they might be able to do so legally even though he has been cleared of all charges.
“Alex Clarke, an employment law specialist [said] … ‘the club would need to be able to justify it from an employment law perspective and show they had a fair reason for doing so.
“’The standard of wrongdoing required to terminate an employment contract is not the same as the standard for a criminal conviction and, where details of a player’s conduct are made public during criminal proceedings, a club may have enough evidence to terminate for gross misconduct.
“’A club may also be able to argue that the player’s continued employment is simply not tenable due to the damaging impact that retaining him may have on the club and that he has brought the club into disrepute.”
It was also noted that Greenwood could sue the club if it did attempt to terminate the contract.
There is also the issue of the 21 year old’s own version of events, questions such as remorse, rehabilitation and forgiveness and these would need to be weighed up by the club against public scrutiny and a sense of justice.
United are therefore faced with both a legal and moral minefield that will require very delicate navigation.
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