Glasgow & West Scotland

Abuse survivors ready for legal action against Celtic

Jim Torbett with Frank Cairney
Image caption Both Jim Torbett (left) and Frank Cairney (right) have been convicted of abusing children at Celtic Boys Club

Legal action will be launched against Celtic FC over historic sex abuse at Celtic Boys Club, a law firm has said.

A solicitor representing abuse survivors confirmed preparations are being made to bring a "small number" of test cases against the Glasgow club.

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 more than 20 boys club abuse survivors.

Patrick McGuire, a partner at Thompsons, said: "The position is that we have quietly, in a workmanlike manner, been building a case against Celtic.

"We've also been engaging in due process with Celtic lawyers and have been trying to engage with them.

"Celtic lawyers have refused in any meaningful way to discuss these cases and we find ourselves in the position where the only way forward is to take a series of test cases to the courts.

"If Celtic will not engage in discussion the courts will decide."

Image copyright Alan lewis
Image caption Jim McCafferty worked as a youth coach more than 20 years ago

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

The 73-year-old, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland, pleaded guilty to 11 charges related to paedophile activity against 10 victims, which took place over several decades.

In 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

Image copyright Press Team
Image caption Frank Cairney was convicted of nine charges of abusing young footballers

Last November, 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.

During the summer, Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell hit back at "misconceptions" the football club have been "doing nothing" following the historic child sex abuse scandal at Celtic Boys Club.

He confirmed that for the last two years the club has been conducting its own investigations, with a "wholly independent and experienced lawyer" leading the work.

In letters released to the PA news agency, he said: "The first misconception is that the club is doing nothing and abdicating responsibility. That is simply not true."

Instead he claimed legal processes meant the club were "constrained" in what it could say publicly, describing it as being "highly frustrating for all".

Image copyright SNS
Image caption Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell hit back at "misconceptions"

He wrote: "Some time ago our insurers appointed a wholly independent and experienced lawyer who is investigating and dealing with this matter on behalf of the club.

"It would be quite inappropriate for us to be discussing highly sensitive and confidential legal matters in the media, and we will not do so, even if that means we come under criticism for following the due legal process.

"We respect any claimants' rights and out advisers will communicate with them and their representatives directly in the proper manner, respecting their rights to confidentiality."

Celtic FC have been approached for comment.

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