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Men who sued Manchester City over Barry Bennell abuse claims wait for ruling

Barry Bennell
(Image credit: PA)

Eight men who sued Manchester City after complaining of being abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago are waiting for a High Court judge’s ruling.

The eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell, now 68, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in north-west England between 1979 and 1985.

Mr Justice Johnson finished overseeing a trial at the High Court in London in December and is due to deliver a ruling on Monday.

The men claim that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe Alexandra in 1985, was a scout for City during that time and argue the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.

Barry Bennell Damages

Manchester City are being sued by eight men complaining of being abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago (Nick Potts/PA Images).

They say the club is vicariously liable for the harm they suffered.

City bosses deny that claim.

They say Bennell was a local City scout in the mid-1970s but not between 1979 and 1985.

Bennell, who is in jail after being convicted of child sex offences in recent years, also denies being linked to Manchester City during the 1980s.

He told the judge that he had been a “local scout” for City between 1975 and 1979, but not between 1979 and 1985.

Bennell, who gave evidence at the trial via video link from the prison, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, where he is being held, said the “reality” was that he “was never” a City coach and, “after 1978/1979”, junior teams he coached had “no connection at all” with City.

Barry Bennell damages

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Barry Bennell appearing via video link at the High Court in London. Eight men who say they were abused by the former football coach are suing Manchester City for damages (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

But he told the judge that he had “always used and exploited” his previous connections with City for his “own benefit”.

The eight men are claiming damages for psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

Mr Justice Johnson heard how Bennell, who used to live near Buxton, Derbyshire, had abused schoolboy footballers after inviting them to stay at his home.

He was told that Bennell was serving a 34-year sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions, four in the UK and one in the US, and being held at HMP Littlehey.

Bennell, who turned 68 on Monday, had told the judge how he had been convicted, at Chester Crown Court in 1998 and 2015, and at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018, of various sexual offences against “numerous boys” and jailed.

He said several of those convictions related to six of the men making claims against City.

But he denied abusing four of the men, when giving evidence to Mr Justice Johnson.

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