The Football Association’s review into child abuse allegations has been delayed pending further criminal investigation into allegations against former football coach Barry Bennell and the retrial of former football coach Bob Higgins.
Clive Sheldon QC who is leading the independent investigation into historical allegations in football between 1970 and 2005 has made the following statement:
“Due to the ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions it has not been possible for all those who want to speak to the review to be able to do so. Whilst I had hoped and expected to complete my review this autumn, I believe this extension will ensure many more individuals who want to engage with the review will be able to do so. It is essential that the review is as comprehensive as possible.”
Bob Higgins was a coach for Southampton Junior Team and worked as a youth manager for Peterborough’s United Youth Team. He was found guilty of indecent assault of a young male trainee in July, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other 48 charges. The Prosecution has asked for a retrial.
The former Crewe Alexandra coach Barry Bennell, who also had an involvement with Manchester City Junior Club was convicted of 50 child sexual offences in February. He was sentenced to 31 years in prison. As part of Operation Hydrant, the Police are continuing to investigate allegations against him.
Clive Sheldon wishes to consider the evidence of the individuals involved in the retrial of Higgins and the outcome of the Police investigation into Bennell before completing his report and therefore it is uncertain how long the inquiry will be delayed. He feels that it is important that everyone who wishes to be heard as part of the inquiry is able to participate.
He wants the inquiry to be as “comprehensive” as possible. The Police have confirmed that Sheldon is in “close and constant co-operation with Operation Hydrant”.
Jordans Solicitors represent victims who have suffered abuse whilst participating in sporting activities and are representing victim of abuse by Higgins and Bennell. Where a person abuses their position of trust and commits an act of assault, a civil claim may be possible. We would encourage anyone affected to report their allegations to the Police and contact Jordans to pursue a civil claim. We can be contacted free on 0330 300 1103 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch with you.