Celtic FC face legal action over historical sex abuse at boys’ club

A number of senior figures at Celtic Boys Club, which was not formally affiliated with the professional team, have been jailed.

Celtic Park
Celtic Park

A former youth footballer is taking legal action against Celtic FC over historic sexual abuse at Celtic Boys’ Club.

Thompsons Solicitors has lodged papers at the Court of Session on behalf of the client who is seeking damages, with the case to be heard in the months ahead.

It said it is the first “test case” and there will be more to come.

A number of senior figures at the boys club, which was not formally affiliated with Celtic FC, have been jailed for sex abuse.

Thompsons Solicitors represents around 25 abuse survivors from the boys club.

Patrick McGuire, partner with the firm, said beginning formal court action was a “hugely significant” moment for survivors of historic abuse in Scotland.

He said: “One the best known and celebrated football clubs in the world are now going to be held to account in civil court for decades of the most abhorrent sexual abuse of children.

“These young lads and their families put their complete trust in Celtic and their feeder organisation Celtic Boys Club.

“That trust was betrayed over four decades by a succession of paedophiles that operated openly within Celtic.”

James McCafferty, a former youth coach, was jailed for more than six years last May after admitting a string of historic sexual offences against young boys.

Last February, former youth football manager Frank Cairney was jailed for four years after being found guilty of historical sex offences from his time running a church youth team and, later, Celtic Boys Club

In November 2018, James Torbett was jailed for six years after being convicted of historical child sex offences.

Torbett – who was involved in setting up Celtic Boys Club – abused his position of trust to sexually abuse three boys over eight years in the 1980s and 1990s.

Celtic FC did not want to comment on the legal action.

In a statement in February, the club said they were dealing with these historical issues in a “responsible manner” but could not discuss any case in any detail amid ongoing legal proceedings.

It said: “Celtic Football Club is appalled by any form of historic abuse and has great sympathy for those who suffered abuse and for their families. The club is very sorry that these events took place.

“The abuse of young people is an abhorrent crime. Unfortunately it has affected many areas of society.

“With regard to the allegations regarding historic abuse at Celtic Boys’ Club (which, so far as we have been made aware, relate to the period prior to 1997), although Celtic Football Club is a separate organisation, we take these extremely seriously because of the historic contacts between the two organisations.

“Police investigations were given support, so as to seek to ensure that those individuals who abused young people were brought to justice.”

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