Glasgow & West Scotland

MSPs criticise Celtic over child sex abuse scandal

James Dornan and Adam Tomkins
Image caption James Dornan and Adam Tomkins have both written to Celtic over the child abuse scandal

Two MSPs have criticised Celtic over its response to the sex abuse scandal involving former boys club coaches.

James Dornan shared a letter on Twitter that he sent to the club after ex-youth coach Jim McCafferty was jailed.

And Prof Adam Tomkins confirmed he is seeking "urgent meetings" with the club and the Scottish Football Association to discuss a series of trials.

Last week Celtic issued a statement which expressed "regret and sorrow" to those affected by the McCafferty case.

He is the fourth man connected to either Celtic or Celtic Boys Club to be found guilty of historical child sex abuse in the past year.

Mr Dornan, MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, has now revealed he sent a letter to the club's chief executive Peter Lawwell on 16 May.

The Celtic supporter said it was "with great sadness" he felt "compelled" to write the letter.

Mr Dornan said his son played for both Celtic Boys Club and Celtic Football Club and said it was "in no way accurate" to describe them as separate entities.

The SNP politician wrote: "Boys were sold the idea of playing for the Boys Club as having a foot into Celtic FC, this from Celtic scouts.

"The relationship between the coaches, including Messrs (Jim) Torbett and (Frank) Cairney and high-ranking Celtic officials, was clear for all to see.

"Every Celtic Boys Club annual event was full of Celtic players and officials, generally giving out the prizes to the lucky young players who saw themselves as close to signing or had already signed for the club."

Image copyright Alan Lewis
Image caption Jim McCafferty was jailed for six years and nine months

The MSP urged the club, which was this week named one of the most valuable in Europe, to compensate the victims.

He added: "I accept that there may be some legal distance between the two but given what I and many others have seen Celtic have without doubt a moral responsibility to compensate for what happened under their watching eye.

"I urge you to take on this responsibility, not blame, apologise for what happened to these deeply damaged young men, accept you can't undo what has been done and offer compensation for those who were treated in such a terrible way by people using, and abusing, the proud name of Celtic FC.

"After seeing the latest in a far too long line of Celtic Boys Club coaches being found guilty of the foulest abuses you continue to abrogate your responsibilities as you have to date on this issue then, in my view, you bring nothing but shame to the reputation of Celtic and the wider Celtic family."

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

Mr Tomkins also called for a compensation package to be set up, citing Manchester City as an example.

In a statement posted on Twitter, the Scottish Conservative Glasgow MSP said: "Through a series of criminal trials we now know something of the scale of the abuse committed by a number of the men associated with Celtic boys' club.

"These are no longer allegations - in the cases in question they have been proved in a court of law.

"What we do not know is what Celtic FC knew about these offences and when they knew it.

"These questions must now be independently and fully investigated and, if necessary, a compensation scheme should be established such as that set up earlier this year by Manchester City FC.

"Several constituents have contacted me in recent weeks about these matters, and their concerns must be addressed."

The MSP confirmed he is writing to Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell and SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell to seek "urgent meetings to take these matters forward".

Celtic have been contacted for comment.

Image caption Patrick McGuire criticised the ten-day delay in Celtic issuing a statement on the McCafferty case

The statement issued by the club last week said: "James McCafferty has pled guilty to offences he committed against young people between 1972 and 1996.

"Celtic Football Club wishes to express its regret and sorrow to those young people.

"McCafferty, who was employed by Celtic Football Club in the mid 1990s, committed these acts many years ago across a number of organisations, and all those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence deserve enormous praise for the courage they have shown.

"We offer our sincere sympathy to those young people, their families and all those involved."

The Celtic statement acknowledged the crimes were "very sensitive issues, particularly for those who suffered abuse."

But solicitor Patrick McGuire, who represents several abuse survivors, criticised the club.

He said: "It would be charitable to Celtic to describe this as too little, too late.

"There is no apology. There is no acknowledgement of Celtic's failures.

"There is no willingness to pay compensation and to follow the lead of Manchester City, particularly as we know some of the abuse took place when McCafferty was employed by Celtic and was in a position of considerable influence and power within the Celtic football club youth set-up."

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