We woke up this morning to the news that Manchester City FC will be launching a redress scheme to make it easier for survivors of child sexual abuse by Barry Bennell to receive compensation.
Bennell’s offences first came to light in 1994, after he led a trip to Florida for young footballers. One of the boys reported abuse to his parents when he returned to the UK, prompting a prosecution in the US that saw Bennell imprisoned for four years. Unfortunately, a much wider pattern of abuse has become evident. In 2018 he was convicted and sentenced on 43 charges of historical abuse, and since then still more allegations have come to light. Bennell was employed by Crewe Alexandra and various football programmes and holiday courses in the US and UK as well as Manchester City FC, giving him access to thousands of children. The full extent of his abuse is not yet known.
In November 2016, Manchester City FC commissioned a review of how Bennell and others used the club’s facilities to facilitate alleged sexual abuse of children from 1964 to the present. The Premiership club has now confirmed that it has launched a redress scheme for those abused by its coaches and employees.
Redress schemes of this sort can help survivors attain compensation without some of the difficulties and delays associated with bringing a legal case. The procedures can be less formal and adversarial than a trial, easing the distress victims can feel, and often commit the institution involved to not raising technical defences like statutes of limitation. In return, the institution hopes to pay less money for legal costs, both its own and those of claimants, and more predictable compensation payments.
The Club has invited witnesses or survivors of abuse by Bennell or others to make contact. The details of the scheme have not been announced. We don’t know at this stage, for example, the level of compensation or proof of abuse that will be required, or whether the scheme will subsidise survivors’ legal fees in compiling an application.
Our firm has extensive experience representing clients in a similar scheme set up by the Lambeth Council for survivors of child sexual abuse at various children’s homes in the 1970s and 1980s. That experience has demonstrated to us the value to survivors of having legal advice in working with organised schemes of this sort. Having legal assistance ensures the survivors’ interests will get proper support if the scheme operator tries to protect itself at their expense. If the compensation does not appear to be fair — less than would be available in court — we can advise about how to proceed.
If you require any advice about the Manchester City Football Club Redress Scheme, or in relation to historic child sexual abuse more generally, please contact us for an informal, no obligation, confidential discussion.