Scotland

Child sex claims against youth coach Hugh Stevenson

Hugh Stevenson
Image caption Hugh Stevenson officiated at the highest level of the game including England v Wales at Wembley

A former youth football coach and top-flight assistant referee has been accused of a catalogue of child sex offences in Scotland.

Pete Haynes, 50, claims Hugh Stevenson sexually abused him over a three to four-year period from 1979.

The Scottish Football Association accredited match official coached hundreds of boys with youth teams in Glasgow and Renfrewshire.

Mr Haynes waived his right to anonymity to speak to BBC Scotland.

He said he reported the allegations to the police in 1993 and 1996 and also warned the SFA, but said he was never told of any outcome.

Mr Haynes said the abuse began the day of the 1979 Scottish Cup Final between Rangers and Hibernian at Hampden Park - the day before his 13th birthday.

Some weeks earlier, Hugh Stevenson had approached the boy, who was developing into a gifted footballer, with the promise of a trial for a bigger club.

Mr Stevenson, who died in 2004, had officiated at the semi- final of the 1979 tournament, and offered to take the child to the final. He said he would have to ask his parents.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionPete Haynes said he hoped victims of abuse would be encouraged to speak out

Mr Haynes said: "He came up to the house, he was adorned in his SFA blazer with his badge on. Very official, very reassuring, I would imagine, for, for my mum and dad - and asked them politely if he could take me to the match.

"I still have that programme, yeah…because that day was the day that my life changed.

"I was confused really, I had no idea what was going on. I was 12, going on for 13. It was the last thing I was expecting to happen that day. That was the start of three, possibly four years, of intense abuse at the hands of Hugh Stevenson.

"[It happened] two or three times a week on average…he always, from that point on, he always seemed to know where I would be because of my football connections. There would always be a fixture list published anyway so he would know them well in advance.

"He would take coaches of boys…away for football tournaments. At those times I would get a break…but it was every week, it was every few days.

"It escalated quite quickly. From that point on the abuse would take place in his house. He done things to me that I find difficult to talk about in great detail but it was about every depraved sexual act that you can think of, up to and including rape. I was raped dozens of times over a period of three-and-a-half years.

"I was ashamed…I knew [my parents] would support me but it wasn't something I wanted to burden them with.

"The main feeling that I had was shame, ashamed of myself. I felt dirty."

Image caption Mr Haynes still has the programme for the match on the day the alleged abuse began

Pete Haynes said the abuse continued until about 1982, until he felt able to stand up to Stevenson and put a stop to it.

But it would be another 10 years before he told anyone his story. He told his family and reported it to the police in 1993.

He said: "I contacted the police in Paisley, K Division. They went off and I'm fairly sure in a very short space of time Hugh Stevenson was arrested and charged."

Asked what happened to the charges, he said: "I've no idea. He never went to court."

He said he turned to the Scottish Football Association and was invited to meet the late Jim Farry, the then chief executive.

He said: "They did tell me that Hugh Stevenson was known to them but he was no longer an SFA affiliate. They said they were very sorry for what had happened to me and, in way of some sort of apology, they gave me a tour of the building in Park Gardens.

"And that was it. That was the last I heard from them.

The BBC has established that he was on the official list of SFA referees between 1964 and 1983.

He was assistant referee in at least four international matches, including the England v Wales home international at Wembley in 1977.

He is also listed as a club official for the well-known feeder club Eastercraigs Boys Club for periods between the late 1970s and mid 1980s.

The BBC understands he was asked to leave Eastercraigs in the mid-80s for attempting inappropriate contact with a boy at another club. He then moved to the Glasgow-based Chelsea Boys Club, which had an affiliation to the London club.

Image caption Hugh Stevenson officiated at matches but was also involved in youth clubs

Later, it is understood Hugh Stevenson was involved with the Paisley-based Ferguslie United.

The BBC has spoken to a number of former players at Eastercraigs who, speaking on condition of anonymity, told of attempts by the coach to "groom" them. One man said he raised the alarm with his parents over Stevenson's alleged behaviour, and they removed him from the club.

Pete Haynes' mother Cathy, told the BBC she had been devastated when she learned of his story in 1993.

"In a way it was like the world ended. It was horrible. Truly horrible. Even now...it's still painful. I just cuddled him. That was really all we could do."

Mrs Haynes, 70, said she had learned Stevenson was still active within youth football in Renfrewshire in the mid-1990s, and tried to report it to a local football official who, she says, refused to listen.

"He didn't want to know," she said.

Staff suspension

Mr Haynes said he returned to the police with this information, but never heard anything back.

On Monday evening the Scottish Youth Football Association, an affiliate of the SFA, announced it had suspended a member of staff.

A spokesman for the SYFA said: "After we were informed of allegations relating to a period prior to the SYFA's formation in 1999, we have placed a member of staff on precautionary suspension while further investigations are carried out.

"We deal with all matters involving child safety with the utmost seriousness and will be undertaking our investigations promptly and rigorously."

The BBC understands the suspension is related to the alleged handling of information provided by the Haynes family in the 1990s, and not allegations of child abuse.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSFA chief executive Stewart Regan said his organisation now has a zero tolerance approach to child abuse

In his first interview on the burgeoning child sex abuse in football scandal, SFA chief executive Stewart Regan told the BBC his organisation took full responsibility for the child protection failings of the past.

He said: "I'm sickened as a father, as a director of the Scottish FA. It sickens me to the stomach to think that somebody (a) has been abused and (b) has tried to report it and has received no positive feedback or help or assistance in actually taking the matter forward.

"Clearly at the moment we need to understand the information and we're grateful to the BBC and indeed grateful to Peter Haynes for having the guts and the bravery to come forward and speak about something that must be pretty uncomfortable for him.

"I apologise deeply to Peter Haynes for the fact that this matter wasn't taken seriously. It was an issue that clearly him and his parents felt so strongly about that they tried to do everything that they possibly could, and the Scottish FA at the time didn't appear to listen, and nothing came of it. That's unacceptable.

"It's certainly something today that we would not tolerate. We would operate with a zero tolerance policy towards any child abuse, and indeed we've put in place the procedures, policies and directives going forward.

"But they won't be of any comfort to historic victims, and I do hope that those out there that are listening to these allegations will actually pick the phone up and let us know if there's any information they feel we should be aware of.

"I'll be absolutely clear - we will take action, if we have any evidence whatsoever of child abuse or of any wrongdoing we will take action and we will deal with it in the strongest possible way."

Police Scotland confirmed investigations had been carried out in the 1990s into Hugh Stevenson.

Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal said: "Police Scotland can confirm that following a report of non-recent child sexual abuse, a then 55-year-old man was subject of a criminal investigation by Strathclyde Police.

"This resulted in a prosecution report being submitted to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) in 1993.

"The same man was subject of a further investigation by Strathclyde Police in 1996 and a further prosecution report was submitted to COPFS."

A COPFS spokesperson said: "We do not have computerised access to reports said to have been submitted more than twenty years ago and therefore we cannot readily confirm how the report was dealt with."

Mr Haynes said he had waited years for his opportunity to speak out, and that he now hopes his coming forward will give strength to others who suffered similar abuse.

He added: "I would encourage them to come forward and give information, whether they do that anonymously or like myself come forward and speak out about it. Anything like that would help this stop because at the end of the day we are all older now. We have children. They need to be protected as well."

The NSPCC offers a free helpline for footballers who have been abused. It is available 24 hours a day on 0800 023 2642.

More on this story