Premier League boss wins anonymity in child s.e.x abuse case

A Premier League boss has been granted a High Court anonymity order in a civil case against him for allegedly sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl. He is being sued for aggravated damages by a woman who says the offences took place two decades ago.

A BBC investigation has already revealed the boss remains in position despite a police investigation over the alleged rape of a different girl, 15.

The judge said the order was necessary for the “administration of justice”. A civil case against the boss was filed in January, and his lawyers have successfully argued to the court that an order be implemented to prevent his name from being released by the media.

Master Stevens, who sits as a judge in the King’s Bench Division of the High Court, said in court documents that she had considered human rights to private and family life, as well as freedom of expression, when making her decision.

She concluded last month that the protection of the boss’ identity was necessary to “secure the proper administration of justice”, adding there was “no sufficient countervailing public interest” in his name being disclosed.

Privacy rules in the UK apply to identifying suspects in the early stages of police investigation, however the media is usually allowed to report cases in court, including civil courts. Earlier this year, the BBC asked the court for documents related to this case but the court did not respond to the journalist making the request or provide them with notice of the anonymity application, therefore the BBC were unable to make representations objecting to the order before the judge’s decision.

The alleged victim in this civil case reported allegations of sexual abuse to the police in 2021, but no further action was taken due to legislation which stated that if an offence of “unlawful sexual intercourse” took place between 1956 and 2004, and the alleged victim was a girl aged 13 to 15, she had to make a complaint within a year. The legislation only applies to girls, not boys.

In court documents, seen by the sports news publication the Athletic, the civil action details accusations against the Premier League boss of sexual abuse and claims he “committed trespass to the claimant’s person (assault and battery) and intentionally inflicted injury”. This is said to have caused psychological harm to his alleged victim.

In an investigation in November, the BBC revealed how the boss was still in post despite being under criminal investigation for raping a different 15-year-old, who we are calling Kate, in the 1990s.

Kate told the BBC she was “terrified” to come forward.

Commenting on the recent decision by the High Court, Kate said: “Courts should not be swayed by the wealthy and powerful, no matter how long ago the allegations occurred.

“Other potential victims need to know that they are trying to be stopped and brought to justice, as this might give them the courage to come forward after years, even decades, of silent horror.”

A third woman, Lisa, told the BBC investigation that she was locked in a room by the boss during a job interview and alleges he tried to coerce her into sexual activity.

She was recently told that no further action would be taken by the police in relation to her allegation.

The club and FA have been informed of the allegations against the Premier League boss, but he has continued his prominent role within football – representing his club at games and events.

The BBC found that seven out of 20 Premier League clubs have had players or bosses investigated by the police for sexual offences since 2020 The Football Association (FA) and Premier League have been accused of prioritising commercial interests over the safety of women.

The powerful status of figures within the highest level of football has led to calls for suspensions until allegations have been fully investigated.

Kate, believes the lack of action within football and the protection of the boss’ identity is putting further women and children at risk.

The FA told the BBC they do not comment on individual cases, adding: “We have robust safeguarding measures in place and all referrals into us are handled in line with our policies and procedures.

“We investigate and assess all allegations and concerns about individuals who may pose a risk of harm to children and adults in football and, where applicable, can impose proportionate safeguarding measures in accordance with FA safeguarding regulations.

Source: BBC

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