Glasgow & West Scotland

Victims of paedophile Jim Torbett take legal action against Celtic

Jim Torbett
Image caption Jim Torbett was jailed for six years at the High Court in Glasgow

Lawyers representing victims of the convicted paedophile Jim Torbett have sent legal letters to Celtic with a view to suing the club.

Torbett, who founded Celtic Boys Club, was convicted earlier this week and jailed for six years for abusing three boys over an eight-year period.

After mounting criticism, Celtic issued a statement on Wednesday expressing "deep regret" over Torbett's crimes.

However, Celtic has insisted it was a separate entity from the boys club.

Thompsons solicitors, which represents 10 former Celtic Boys Club players, has said the Parkhead side's statement did not go far enough and had issued the Scottish champions with an ultimatum.

'Right the wrongs'

Speaking on BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme, solicitor Patrick McGuire described the official statement as "insipid" and warned Celtic not to take "some sort of victim mentality".

He said: "We are asking Celtic, in their own right, for their own past wrongs, to do the right thing.

"The survivors of this abuse have been waiting for a very long time. They won't wait much longer."

Mr McGuire also questioned Celtic FC's claim that it was only alerted to stories about Torbett in the 1990s.

He said: "I was very interested, shall we say, in that particular comment. That they would choose to pin their colours to such a mast so factually.

"When was it that Celtic Football Club knew, or ought to have known, about what was going on and when should that club have taken action? Was it in the 90s? I have evidence to the contrary."

Image caption Patrick McGuire has vowed to take Celtic to court if it fails to meet his clients

Celtic FC have repeatedly insisted that the club was a completely separate entity from the boys club. Mr McGuire described that as "simply incorrect".

He said: "We say that the two organisations, even if the boys club was a separate legal entity which in itself is questionable, were utterly intertwined.

"The connection, both financial and institutional, between the two is a very significant factor."

Among Thompsons solicitors' clients is former Celtic Boys Club player Kenny Campbell.

Image caption Kenny Campbell waived his right to anonymity

The grandfather was one of the men who helped convict Torbett, 71, after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Mr Campbell said: "What makes me so sad is the way Celtic have just ignored me and other survivors.

"I see they have issued some sort of apology but it's not enough.

"They need to accept responsibility for what was done and settle these legal cases."

Mr Campbell also urged other victims to come forward.

Celtic had been criticised for its silence following Torbett's conviction at the High Court in Glasgow.

'Historic contacts'

But after a two-day silence it said it had taken the allegations of abuse "extremely seriously" because of its "historic contacts" with Celtic Boys Club.

The club published the statement on its website.

It said: "Celtic Football Club wishes to express our deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse.

"We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time.

"We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered."

Torbett, of Kelvindale, Glasgow, founded Celtic Boys Club in 1966.

The ex-football coach was jailed for two years after being found guilty of shameless indecency in November 1998.

Justice then caught up with Torbett for a second time after an investigation by BBC journalists Mark Daly and Calum McKay.

On Monday, he was found guilty of abusing three boys between August 1986 and August 1994.

Following his conviction, Celtic was criticised for its failure to comment on the case.

Image caption Jock Stein (left) presented Torbett (centre) with an award three years after he allegedly threw him out of the club

In the statement issued on Wednesday, the club said allegations regarding abuse at Celtic Boys Club had first emerged in the 1990s.

It continued: "Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys Club.

"All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support. We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully.

"Celtic Football Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these crimes to the police."

The club said it had taken steps to develop a new code of conduct and procedures to protect young people and became the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer.

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