Paedophile Barry Bennell ‘quite clearly’ had a Manchester City role and ‘everyone knew him’, a High Court hears from one of the eight men taking legal action against the top-flight club
- Eight men are suing Man City after being abused by ex-coach Barry Bennell
- City deny Bennell was an employee or in a relationship ‘akin to employment’
- According to one of the men, Bennell clearly had a role at the Manchester club
- The former coach was known by everyone at City, according to the same man
Notorious paedophile Barry Bennell ‘quite clearly’ had a role at Manchester City, where ‘everyone knew him’, a man suing the club told a High Court trial.
During what was an at-times heated cross-examination, the complainant – one of eight men who have taken legal action against the club – also accused City of ‘dictating’ to him over a compensation scheme they set up which he did not take part in.
The group, now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell abused them when they were playing youth football more than 30 years ago.
All are claiming damages for the effects of the abuse, and six are seeking compensation for loss of earnings, saying that Bennell’s behaviour towards them robbed them of a chance to make a career in the game.
Notorious paedophile Barry Bennell ‘quite clearly’ had a role at Manchester City, a man suing the club told the High Court trial
Eight men, all in the 40s and 50s say Bennell abused them and are suing the top-flight club
City deny that their relationship with Bennell for the period in question was akin to employment. The witness, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said Bennell had initially approached his father and carried a blue card describing him as Manchester City’s ‘North West representative’.
He added: ‘Bennell would drive us there into the car park at Platt Fields (at City’s former training ground). He went through the door to be greeted. Everyone knew him, it was familiar, a pat on the back — dead friendly.’
A High Court heard from a trial that ‘everyone at Manchester City knew him’
The man went into further detail. ‘He (Bennell) did have a role quite clearly at Manchester City,’ he said. ‘He was a scout and a coach. He had access and the ability to use their facilities… there was absolutely a definite association with Manchester City.’
The complainant also claimed that trophies won by his youth team were kept in the office of ex-chief scout Ken Barnes and added that he ‘saw Bennell take kit from Manchester City — equipment, cones, bibs, balls, boots, trainers’.
In the wake of the scandal, which broke in 2016, City set up a no-liability compensation scheme, which has seen payments of around £4million to 64 individuals.
‘I didn’t agree with the terms and conditions,’ the man said when asked about his awareness of it. ‘They didn’t negotiate, they dictated. They said it’s this way or the highway.’
Mr Justice Johnson, who is overseeing the trial, has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985. Lawyers acting for City’s insurers say Bennell was a ‘local scout’ in the mid-1970s but say he did not have a role in the 1980s.
City deny Bennell was an employee or in a relationship ‘akin to employment’
Bennell, who worked as a coach at Crewe Alexandra, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions — four in the UK and one in the US.
He is due to give evidence on December 6 although that may be brought forward.
In a statement ahead of the trial, City said the matter was ‘out of their control’ and ‘passes instead to the relevant Football League insurers’. They add that the club is named in the case ‘as a formality only’ and does not make decisions ‘such as who to call as witnesses’.
The man is the first of the eight to give evidence at the trial and is seeking around £220,000 in lost earnings.