Legal action launched against Celtic over historic sex abuse

Writ has been served on the Parkhead club by Thompsons Solicitors, who represent survivors of sexual abuse.

Formal court action is being launched against Celtic Football Club in relation to historic sex abuse.

A writ has been served on the Parkhead club on behalf of a former youth footballer by Thompsons Solicitors Scotland – the first “test” case the firm will bring to court.

Patrick McGuire, a partner with Thompsons Solicitors, said the court action is “a hugely significant day for survivors of historic abuse in Scotland”.

Celtic FC released a statement earlier this year saying it was “appalled by any form of historic abuse” and had “great sympathy” for the victims.

In May 2019, former Celtic youth coach Jim McCafferty was jailed for six years and nine months after admitting sexually abusing young footballers.

He became the fourth man connected with Celtic or Celtic Boys Club jailed for historical sex abuse, after Jim Torbett, Frank Cairney and Gerald King.

Celtic FC have distanced themselves from Celtic Boys’ Club, previously describing it as an “entirely separate organisation”, but have faced calls to compensate abuse victims.

McGuire 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.”

Glasgow MSPs James Dornan and Adam Tomkins have both questioned the club’s approach to the abuse scandal. But Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has hit back at “misconceptions” that the football club has been “doing nothing”.

Last June, Mr Lawwell said the club had been conducting its own investigations over a two-year period with a “wholly independent and experienced lawyer” leading the work.

Mr McGuire said the Celtic board chose to simply sweep the accusations aside.

“This utter failure of basic child welfare let to what I believe is the worst child abuse scandal in British Football,” he said.

“Celtic like to tell the world that they are a special club built on family values. We now have a situation where Celtic’s full corporate resources have been mobilised to deny any responsibility for what went on.

“They have turned their backs on these survivors the most vulnerable members of the Celtic family.

“Members of the Celtic board past and present will no doubt find a way to square this appalling conduct with their consciences but from today onwards the survivors of the Celtic abuse scandal will challenge them on their own terms.”

Celtic FC have been approached for comment.

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