Youth coach Hugh Stevenson continued in football after child sex claims

By Mark Daly, Martin Conaghan & Calum McKay
BBC Scotland Investigations Unit

media captionHugh Stevenson officiated at senior levels including this match at Wembley

A suspected paedophile was allowed to carry on working in football for several years after being reported to police and the SFA, a BBC Scotland investigation has revealed.

Youth coach and referee Hugh Stevenson, who is now dead, has been accused of a series of child sex offences.

Pete Haynes told BBC Scotland he had been sexually abused by Mr Stevenson.

It has now emerged Mr Stevenson continued coaching despite authorities knowing of the allegations.

The Scottish Youth Football Association (SYFA) has suspended former coach and official Mitch Agnew pending an investigation into the handling of any complaint from the Haynes family about Mr Stevenson.

Mr Haynes, 50, told the BBC that he had been groomed by Mr Stevenson with the promise of big time football and a trip to a cup final, then repeatedly abused between 1979 and 1982.

The Scottish Football Association (SFA) has apologised to Mr Haynes.

Police Scotland has confirmed the old Strathclyde Police force investigated Mr Stevenson in 1993 and again in 1996.

The BBC has learned the complaint in 1996 was by a different boy, and that a third boy may have made a similar complaint to police prior to Mr Haynes.

image captionHugh Stevenson - pictured here in 1995, during his time at Ferguslie United - was a youth coach

So far, neither the Crown Office nor Police Scotland has been able to confirm this, or explain why none of the cases appear to have proceeded to trial.

Now, it has emerged that Mr Stevenson, who died in 2004, continued to coach youth football for several years after the alarm was raised, including with Paisley amateur side Ferguslie United and Cowdenbeath.

Kevin Hutchison, 39, played with Ferguslie United from 1993-95, and confirmed that Hugh Stevenson was one of the coaches.

Mr Hutchison said he had not been the victim of any abuse from Mr Stevenson.

He said: "I played for Ferguslie United from 1993-1995 and Hugh was the manager. I was never a victim of abuse from [him].

"He also had an unofficial capacity with Cowdenbeath youth team, where he would scout players. He had full access to the changing rooms, again in 1993- 95 possibly 1996. To anyone observing you would have thought he was part of the coaching staff."

Mr Hutchison said Mr Stevenson had an official Cowdenbeath jacket.

He added: "He would regularly transport boys around the country.

"I find it abhorrent that Hugh Stevenson was allowed to coach and manage youth football in the very same years that Pete Haynes came forward to both the SFA and the police."

'No attempt to mislead'

Gordon McDougall, who was chairman of Cowdenbeath from 1991-2007, said it "disgraceful" that Mr Stevenson continued to work in youth football after allegations were made to the SFA.

He added: "It is something that would not have happened if we had been aware in any way at all and you just cannot believe that it would be allowed to happen.

"Surely efforts should have been made to make people aware throughout football that this person was at large, as it were."

On Monday, as a result of allegations submitted by the BBC, Mitch Agnew, who was part of the Ferguslie Utd coaching set-up in the 1990s, and is a long serving senior figure in the SYFA, was suspended pending an investigation.

image copyrightSYFA
image captionMitch Agnew, who has been suspended from his role at the SYFA, said he was not informed of any police investigation into allegations about Mr Stevenson

The BBC understands the SYFA, which is an affiliate of the SFA and based at Hampden Park, suspended him from his position whilst it investigates whether any allegations about Hugh Stevenson's abuse were properly handled.

Mr Agnew initially told the BBC he thought Mr Stevenson left the team in the late 1980s - but later confirmed both their coaching roles with Ferguslie continued well into the 90s.

In a statement, he denied ever being made aware of any allegations about Mr Stevenson.

He said: "There has been no attempt by me to mislead anyone. When asked about something that is alleged to have happened over 20 years ago timescale is difficult. Hugh Stevenson was not a member of the age group I was involved in.

"He ran age groups younger than mine but he had left Ferguslie United before I did in 1996.

"I was not informed of any investigation by police and had I been informed would have assisted them with their inquiries and would have asked him to leave the club."

Hugh Stevenson 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 was associated with Eastercraigs Boys Club in Glasgow between the late 1960s and mid 1980s before being asked to leave for attempting inappropriate contact with a boy at another club.

image captionEarlier this week, Pete Haynes claimed Hugh Stevenson sexually abused him over a three to four-year period from 1979

This week, another man came forward to speak of an alleged sexual assault by Mr Stevenson, dating back to 1968 whilst he was at Eastercraigs.

The man, now in his 60s, said he fought Stevenson off, and said the coach had made him promise not to tell any of the others.

He said: "I now regret that. Perhaps if I spoke up he might have been stopped sooner."

In a statement, Stewart Regan, chief executive of the SFA, said: "Since the Scottish FA launched its confidential hotline in partnership with NSPCC and PFA Scotland, we have worked to ensure all disclosures are handled appropriately and delivered to Police Scotland."

"We can also confirm that we have been informed by the Scottish Youth FA that it has suspended a member of its staff."

Det Ch Supt Lesley Boal, head of public protection at Police Scotland, said: "Searching records held by legacy forces, many of which are not held electronically, can be a lengthy and challenging process and it is not always possible to quickly confirm details of previous policing activity which may in some instances date back decades.

"Police Scotland is continuing to receive information and reports about non recent child sexual abuse in football through a number of routes, including the NSPCC helpline.

"The exposure of the scale and scope of child sexual abuse only strengthens Police Scotland's absolute commitment to child protection and to look into/ investigate reports we are receiving now."

Additional reporting by Liam McDougall and Selena Jackson

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