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Released On 7th Nov 2021

Civil claims launched against Manchester City by victims of Barry Bennell

Former football coach and scout, Barry Bennell, is in the news again following his convictions for sexual abuse at Chester Crown Court.  Bennell was originally sentenced to 30 years following his conviction in 2018 for 52 sexual offences against 12 boys. This led to further victims coming forward and in October 2020 Bennell pleaded guilty to 3 counts of buggery and six counts of indecent assault against two boys. His sentence was then extended to 34 years in prison. The offences occurred between 1979 and 1988.

Barry Bennell was a football coach for Crewe Alexandra, Manchester City and Stoke City. He also coached football at Butlins holiday camps in Wales. He was a local scout for Manchester City in the 1970’s.  Eight of his victims have now made civil claims for compensation against Manchester City and are suing the club for damages to recompense them for their psychiatric injuries caused by the sexual abuse.  The victims say that Bennell was operating as a Manchester City scout whilst he abused them between 1979 and 1985.

We have previously represented victims who were sexually abused by Barry Bennell, including when he was a coach at Butlins.  Manchester City has already set up a compensation Scheme, or `Survivors Scheme’ for players abused by Bennell and John Broome, however many victims were unhappy about the financial limits of the scheme.  The scheme’s loss of earnings was capped at £35,000. Of course many of Bennell’s victims were talented young football players. They may have gone on to have successful footballing careers where earnings could have been vast, but if their careers were cut short due to the sexual abuse, that opportunity was lost.

The civil case that is currently being heard in the High Court in London will turn on several issues, including whether the claimants in the civil proceedings can persuade the Court that Manchester City were responsible for his wrong doings, despite the fact he was operating at other locations at the time.  We know from our claims involving sexual abuse at Butlins, that Bennell would wear his Manchester City kit whilst coaching and the families therefore assumed he was also working for Manchester City at the time. 

From a legal perspective, a defendant is vicariously liable, or in plain speak, legally responsible for the wrongdoings of those who `work’ for them.  Manchester City’s lawyers deny that Bennell was employed by the club at the time of the wrongdoings in the 1980’s, although he was a local scout for the club in the mid 1970’s.  They say that they are not therefore vicariously liable for the sexual abuse that he committed whilst working as a youth coach in the 1980’s. 

As we are also talking about offences occurring in the 1970’s and 1980’s, many key witnesses have now died, including Ken Barnes, a former chief scout for Manchester City, and club secretary Bernard Halford.  According to the QC representing the Club, he says that Barry Bennell must be called as a witness as he is the only person alive who can speak on these matters.  The case continues to be heard at the High Court.

If you or a family member have suffered sexual abuse in sport, please contact our specialist team on a free, confidential, no obligation basis at enquiries@robsonshaw.uk.  At Robsonshaw, we have successfully gained 6 figure awards of compensation for victims of sexual abuse.  Samantha Robson has been specialising in historic sexual abuse claims over the past 20 years and has a wide range of experience in this area of litigation.