Twenty-five men who claim they are victims of historical sexual abuse at Celtic Boys Club have launched group proceedings against Celtic Football Club. The case will mark one of the first of its kind in Scotland, with solicitors claiming the potential exists for damages payments running into millions of pounds being ordered by the court of session.
The ability to launch a class action – where two people or more can combine evidence and resources – was made possible in Scots law last year. Thompsons Solicitors, which represents the claimants, has appealed for other abuse survivors to come forward.
Patrick Maguire, a partner at the firm, said: “This is completely unique. I know of no other group actions, or involving such a large number of claimants, against any other club in Europe. I hope this a wake-up call for Celtic and they decide to face up to their responsibilities instead of rubbing salt in the wounds of survivors.” Thompsons states the claims “stem largely from their time playing for Celtic Boys Club in the 1980s”.
Celtic have always maintained they operated as a separate entity from Celtic Boys Club, which no longer exists. A number of individuals have been charged and sentenced in connection to abuse at Celtic Boys Club.
In a statement, Celtic said: “The club again expresses its sincere sympathy, regret and sorrow to those affected and reiterates that it will stand by its responsibilities, respecting the due process of the law.”
An independent review into sexual abuse in Scottish football, published last year, highlighted individuals who abused children and worked throughout their careers at organisations including Celtic Boys Club, Celtic, Falkirk, Hamilton, Hibernian, Motherwell, Rangers and Partick Thistle. The 192-page review detailed abuses, including rape, inflicted on those aged between six and 16.
At that point, Celtic said: “The club has publicly expressed its sincere sympathy, regret and sorrow to all those affected across Scottish football including at Celtic Football Club and Celtic Boys Club, something which the independent review acknowledged and welcomed. Today we reiterate this apology.”
In the summer of 2019, the Celtic chief executive at the time, Peter Lawwell, revealed the club had undertaken a review of its own. “The misconception is that the club is doing nothing and abdicating responsibility,” Lawwell said. “That is simply not true.”