Barry Bennell: Crewe will not conduct own investigation into abuse

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February 2018: Lord Carlile says football failed to protect youngsters from abuse

Crewe will not conduct their own investigation into former youth coach and convicted paedophile Barry Bennell.

The League Two club, where Bennell worked in the 1980s and 1990s, have previously been accused of "brushing under the carpet" claims that eventually led to his conviction on 43 charges of child sex abuse in February.

And since then, more allegations of inappropriate behaviour have surfaced.

But Crewe say they "do not intend to commission a further investigation".

They say they do not want "to duplicate the thorough enquires that have already been undertaken" by a police investigation into what the club knew about Bennell's serial abuse.

Bennell, 64, was sacked by Crewe in 1992. The club has always insisted this was for football-related reasons. Crewe have always denied claims they knew of his abuse while he was employed by the club.

Responding to the news, the Offside Trust, set up by some of Bennell's victims to support others affected by child sex abuse, called for "full transparency from all clubs where abuse took place".

"We believe that these clubs have a moral responsibility to open their doors to a truly independent investigation. If clubs have nothing to hide they should not shirk from this duty," a statement added.

"The healing process for survivors will not be easy. But it is made more difficult when individuals and institutions refuse to properly address the past and fail to demonstrate any empathy or remorse. We sincerely hope that clubs will acknowledge this and agree to appropriate independent scrutiny."

'They say they didn't know. It makes me furious'

A former board member at Crewe, Hamilton Smith, has claimed he warned the club about Bennell's relationship with young boys in the late 1980s, but the coach was allowed to stay in his job.

Smith also says he asked the Football Association to investigate the case in 2001, after Bennell was convicted on separate child sex offences, but was ignored.

In a statement on Friday, Crewe denied Smith's claims.

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February 2018: Chris Unsworth, Micky Fallon and Steven Walters

They say there is "no reference whatsoever of any allegations of abuse being raised by Mr Smith in the contemporaneous board minutes retained by the club".

The statement adds: "Every available member of the board of directors of the club during the time that Mr Smith was managing director has been interviewed by the police.

"Each and every individual, including the manager of the club at the time, Mr [Dario] Gradi, has denied having any recollection of Mr Smith raising any allegations of abuse about Mr Bennell at any board meeting in 1988 or ever."

Smith has previously said: "It makes me furious when [Crewe] say they didn't know something was going on.

"Everybody involved could and should have done a lot more."

'Sacked coach after clash with parents'

Crewe's new statement is their longest and most in depth in reaction to the new allegations of sexual abuse committed by Bennell that first surfaced in November 2016.

It comes four days after new and further claims that they did have knowledge of the child sex abuse Bennell was carrying out when he was employed by them, but failed to act.

On Tuesday, parents of children coached by Bennell at Crewe told the Victoria Derbyshire programme he was sacked shortly after they had confronted him about his behaviour.

One of Bennell's former players and his mother said rumours about the coach were widespread at the time he suddenly left the club.

The former player, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: "There was a group of parents who confronted Barry because there were rumours. One of the dads in the group had said that his son had gone to him and he'd been touching his son."

And also on Tuesday, a former Crewe employee claimed that in 2001 he was asked by a senior official at the club to help wipe pornography off the home computer of then-manager Gradi.

According to a statement given to the NSPCC in 2011, the man - who does not want to be identified - was told that Gradi had been hosting a group of young Irish Under-13 players at his house and they had been viewing the material on his computer.

The Football Association of Ireland has announced it is to investigate the claims.

In Friday's statement, Crewe "acknowledges" that after Bennell was sacked, Gradi "wrote to parents advising that he did not want any of the boys to attend other coaching sessions or games organised by Mr Bennell".

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The BBC's Danny Savage reports on the verdicts

They say that "the reason for this letter being written was simply because the club and Mr Gradi did not want to potentially lose any promising young players to a team coached by Mr Bennell".

They say the "letter was not written in the context of either the club or Mr Gradi having any knowledge of complaints for sexual assault being made against Mr Bennell".

Speaking earlier in February, Lord Carlile - one of the country's top legal experts who prosecuted serial paedophile Bennell in 1998 - told the BBC his abuse had been "brushed under the carpet" by Crewe.

He said the club at the centre of the case was guilty of "institutional failure" over their former youth coach.

He also said he feared young footballers were abused because "this danger was not drawn to the attention of a wider public".

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