Review into Alleged Non-Recent Child Sexual Abuse in Football
In response to the revelations surrounding the allegations of child sexual abuse in football, the Football Association (“FA”) launched an enquiry. The enquiry, led by Clive Sheldon QC, was launched in December 2016. The FA chairman described it as the biggest crisis in the history of the sport.
The purpose of the enquiry was to understand to what extent the FA were aware of the issues relating to non-recent child sexual abuse in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and up until about 2005.
The purpose was also to consider what steps the FA took to address safeguarding/child protection issues in the sport up until 2005, and to consider any failings by the FA. Particularly, it was to consider whether the FA failed to act appropriately to anything raised relating to child sexual abuse, in relation to any football club, at any level, or alleged abuser.
Another purpose was to consider the steps that those clubs which are identified as being linked to alleged child sexual abusers, took at the time of any incidents, and are taking to investigate what the club did or did not know and/or did or did not do in relation to child sexual abuse.
Importantly, the enquiry was to consider the lessons that can be learned by the FA.
In July 2018 various media organisations reported that the full report should be delivered by Clive Sheldon QC in September 2018. At that time, it was anticipated the report would be critical of a number of football clubs, highlighting failings in the system and the inadequacy of safeguarding policies. However, it was also anticipated that no evidence was found by the enquiry to suggest that there was a high-level cover-up on the part of the authorities.
It was anticipated that a number of clubs will be identified in the report, although the list is not exhaustive-
- Crewe Alexandra
- Manchester city
- Aston Villa
- Leicester City
- Newcastle United
- Norwich City
- Peterborough United
- Cambridge United
Can I claim compensation if I suffered sexual abuse at my football club as a child?
If you were the victim of abuse whilst playing football run by a club or other organisation, you need to show, on the balance of probabilities, that your abuser abused you.
Although it is frequently the case that there is no evidence of the abuse other than the survivor’s account of the assaults, you can still win your claim for compensation. This is because you do not have to prove 100% that the assaults took place: you only have to show that it is more likely than not, that you were the victim of assaults.
Paedophiles often move from football club to football club, quickly fleeing when suspicions surrounding their unusual behaviour start to emerge. Then they turn up at another institution where they have easy access to children. If your football club failed to perform CRB checks (or other checks if the assaults occurred before the 2000s), or obtain references from previous clubs that could have alerted them to the fact their new recruit could not be trusted around children, then they could be found liable for negligence.
How do I make a claim?
The first step is to instruct an experienced solicitor, who specialises in child abuse work, who you feel you can trust and develop a rapport with.
Is there a time limit on making claims for sexual abuse that occurred at a football club?
There are generally no time limits for prosecuting abusers; however, there are time limits imposed for making a compensation claim. Usually, victims have three years from the time the abuse took place, or from the time of their 18th birthday, to bring a civil claim for compensation.
However, due to the impact of sexual abuse on survivors, these times limits are not always strictly applied. The court has the discretion to extend the time for bringing a claim, meaning compensation claims for historic abuse which occurred at football clubs can be heard many years down the track. Nevertheless, time is not automatically extended and thus it is important to bring a claim as soon as possible, to improve your chances of making a successful claim.
What is the process of making a claim against a football club or a football coach?
Our personal injury team will arrange an initial consultation to discuss the circumstances of your case. We will refrain from asking any specific details about the abuse and will only ask when we have earned your trust and you are ready.
We will then recommend you report allegations of the abuse to the authorities as this will improve the prospects of a successful claim.
Once we have carried out inquiries and the evidence is gathered, we will then contact the football club in question, on your behalf, notifying them that you are claiming compensation for abuse. They can either choose to accept the allegations and settle the claim or defend them. If the latter occurs, we are likely to recommend court proceedings
We will support you in getting medical reports detailing the mental and physical effects of abuse. We will also advise you on what you can claim for and the likely level of compensation.
How long with the process take?
Claims for historic abuse can take a couple of years, especially if there is a going to be a criminal case. Our child abuse lawyers will support you through the process. We care deeply about our clients and we commit to you and your case.
Will I have to go to court?
We understand the trauma attending court can cause the victim of sexual, physical or emotional abuse, especially if you have never spoken about the incident until now. However, our vast experience and skill in alternative dispute resolution procedures such as settlement meetings with the lawyers working for those legally responsible for the abuse means that the vast majority of the claims we bring are settled long before they get to court.
How much will it cost to make a claim?
At IBB Solicitors we provide ‘conditional fee arrangements’, otherwise known as ‘no win, no fee’. This means that if your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any legal fees to our solicitors.
Because we are shouldering the risk of your claim, you can therefore feel confident that we believe it has a reasonable chance of success.
You can further protect yourself by taking out After the Event insurance to cover the other side’s costs if the court orders that you must pay them. This is something that we can organise for you.
By instructing IBB Solicitors to manage your compensation claim for abuse occurring whilst you participated played football (or when your child played), you can be confident that you have the best possible chance of success. We will expertly guide you through the process, providing you and your family with support.
If early settlement is not possible, you can be assured that we will robustly fight your claim, protecting your interests and obtaining the compensation you deserve.
We are committed and passionate about supporting victims of abuse in football and getting justice for them. Every child has the right to participate in extra-circular activities without the risk of harm coming to them. By bringing a claim for compensation, you are not only empowering yourself, but ensuring those whose negligent acts and/or omissions failed to protect you (or your child) are held to account.
If you would like further information on making a compensation claim for child abuse which occurred in a football club, please call our office on 0333 323 1637 to make an appointment with one of our team.