Barry Bennell sex abuse: Eight men sue Man City

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Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra deny they are vicariously liable for the abuse

Eight men sexually abused by paedophile football coach Barry Bennell are set for a High Court trial of their damages claims against Manchester City.

They were abused by Bennell while he is said to have worked as the Premier League club's scout and coached at "feeder teams".

They are claiming for "very serious psychiatric injuries" due to his abuse.

He is serving a 31-year jail term for abusing 12 boys, some of whom are part of the action, between 1979 and 1991.

'Too late'

The claimants argue that, while Bennell was not officially on Manchester City's "books", the club was still vicariously liable for the abuse.

All but one of the eight are claiming damages for "the loss of a chance to pursue a career as a footballer".

Two of the men are also bringing claims against Crewe Alexandra, where Bennell was employed as a youth coach after leaving Manchester City in the mid-1980s.

At a preliminary hearing, the claimants' barrister, James Counsell QC, said each of the men, some of whom were sexually abused by Bennell "over the course of up to five years", had "continued throughout their adult lives to suffer from the effects" of the abuse.

Both Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra deny they are liable.

Mr Counsell said that, in a recent "very similar" High Court case, Blackpool FC was found liable for the sexual abuse of an aspiring footballer by convicted paedophile Frank Roper, who informally worked as a club scout.

City and Crewe also argue the claims have been brought too late and dispute the extent to which the abuse is said to have caused the claimants financial or other losses.

Michael Kent QC, representing both clubs, said in written submissions Bennell "never had a formal contract of employment" with City, which raised the "issue as to whether... that defendant could ever be liable for them".

He also argued, although Bennell was employed by Crewe, there was "significant dispute" as to whether the assaults "occurred in the course of or were closely connected with his employment".

Mrs Justice Lambert ordered all eight claims be heard together at a eight-week trial listed to start in October 2021.

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