Manchester City to set up Compensation Scheme for Victims of Abuse

By Rob Casey, Director and Solicitor Advocate, Child Abuse Claims

Manchester City Football Club have announced that they are launching a “Survivors Scheme”,  under which survivors of abuse committed by both Barry Bennell and John Broome, both of whom were previously connected to the club, will be able to claim compensation without the need to go through the process of making claims through the courts.

Bennell and Broome Inquiry

The club have been undertaking their own inquiry into abuse committed by both Bennell and Broome. Bennell has been convicted of a large number of offences committed between 1979 and 1991, when for at least some of the time he was connected with the club. He is now serving a 30 years prison sentence. John Broome was involved at City from 1964 to 1971. He is now deceased but nine people have so far come forward to report him for serious sexual abuse.

Bennell and Broome are known to have been connected with a total of nine “feeder” or “junior” teams which were connected to Manchester City. These teams are – Whitehill, Blue Star, Pegasus, Xerxes, Midas, Adswood Amateurs, White Knowl, Palace and Glossop Juniors.

City have been undertaking their own independent inquiry into the allegations and even though that inquiry continues have said that they “want to do the right thing”.

Survivor’s Compensation

The existence of the scheme will mean that survivors, who were often youth players at clubs connected with Manchester City, will now have the option of pursuing claims either through the courts or the “alternative pathway” of the scheme. The club state that the scheme has been set up “to give eligible survivors a level of closure as fast as possible”. They say that using the scheme will “avoid the costs, time, emotional distress and complexity of a trial with an alternative dispute resolution process”.

The idea is to “provide a speedier, cheaper and more predictable means of compensation than lengthy, expensive formal court litigation”.

There will be a two tier system of compensation which will take into account the range of offences, the length of abuse and its effect on the victims. Crucially, the club will also contribute to legal costs which will mean that survivors making applications to the scheme will be able to keep all compensation awarded to them without having to pay legal costs themselves.

In addition to financial compensation, it is believed that the club will arrange to meet survivors in order to offer an apology for the wrongs done to them, even though it should be noted that the abuse happened many years before the current owners took over the club. It is a positive step that the current owners have taken in recognising their responsibility to act and appearing to understand that survivors will find it difficult to move on until an apology is received, as well as an acknowledgment that the abuse happened.

Switalskis’ View

Here at Switalskis we have long argued that the establishment of such schemes can often be beneficial for survivors. My colleague, Paul Durkin, recently gave evidence to the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) and talked about the benefit of schemes to survivors.

We currently represent over 300 applicants to the Lambeth Children’s Homes Redress Scheme and have already secured over £2,000,000 for Lambeth Abuse Survivors through the scheme. Many of the claims are in their early stages and are ongoing.

The benefits of being able to apply to a scheme include claims being dealt with on more of an “inquisitorial rather than adversarial basis”. Applications are often dealt with much quicker than they would be through the courts and the whole process can be significantly less traumatic than court proceedings.

It is to Manchester City’s credit that they have indicated that nobody who receives compensation will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement and as they have described the scheme as a “victim first” method of dealing with claims it is to be hoped that it will work in an efficient, fair and speedy fashion.

Switalskis Solicitors have a large Child Abuse Compensation Team, who have many years of experience in dealing with these types of claims. All of our specialist lawyers have dealt with claims under schemes similar to the one that Manchester City are now establishing and also through the courts. We understand how difficult it is for survivors to make such claims and are experienced in dealing with them in a sensitive and client focused way. We regularly represent clients from all over the country and can accept instructions nationwide, with no inconvenience or additional cost to the client. Our team are always happy to travel to see our clients. 

It is not yet clear yet how long the Manchester City Football Club Scheme will remain open but if you would like to discuss the possibility of making a claim, please contact Rob Casey either by email on rob.casey@switalskis.com or phone on 0800 138 4700.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only.  They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice, and the law may have changed since this article was published.  Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice on their own particular circumstances.