Hearts suspend sex offender Craig Thomson

Hearts defender Craig Thomson
Thomson was fined for his "lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour"

Hearts have suspended Craig Thomson after he was placed on a sex offenders list for inappropriate conduct toward underage girls on the internet.

The club announced the decision on Tuesday, a day after saying they were backing the Scotland Under-21 defender.

Thomson, 20, pleaded guilty to "lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour," and was placed on the sex offenders list for five years and fined £4,000.

The club's initial backing of Thomson was widely criticised.

The official supporters' club of the Scottish Premier League outfit, charity Children's 1st and Scottish lawmakers were among those calling for Hearts to take action against the player.

And Hearts' water sponsor cancelled its contract with the club on Monday.

A very brief statement on the Hearts websiteexternal-link announced Thomson's suspension and said there would be no further comment.

Anne Houston, chief executive of Children 1st, said on Tuesday: "The reason we got involved in this issue was because of our longstanding commitment to protecting children and ensuring they are safe and secure.

"We would maintain that there is no place in our society for public role models who have been convicted of sexual offences against children, no matter what other talents they might have.

"In recent years, Children 1st has worked closely with sports governing bodies, including the SFA, to help them train volunteer coaches on keeping children safe and allowing them to have fun in sport.

"But professional sports organisations also have responsibilities in this area. Everyone at a football club who has contact with children and young people should be trained on child protection procedures."

Lothian police say there are currently no fresh investigations into newspaper allegations against Thomson.

But BBC Scotland believes the club are conducting their own internal investigation into the allegations.

A police spokesman said: "Lothian and Borders Police are not currently carrying out any further investigations into a 20-year-old man who was convicted for sexual offences in Midlothian.

"If however, any new evidence is brought to our attention, it will be investigated thoroughly and the appropriate action will be taken.

"We would actively encourage any victim of crime to come forward to police immediately or alternatively to report the crime via Crimestoppers in complete anonymity."

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