Celtic chief speaks out after bandwagon jumping politicians criticise club

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell has hit out at bandwagon jumping politicians and others who believe that the Scottish champions are ‘doing nothing’ following the historic child abuse scandal at Celtic Boys Club.

Lawwell confirmed that for the past two years, the club have been conducting its own investigation - with a ‘wholly independent and experienced lawyer’ in charge.

Glasgow MSPs James Dornan [SNP] and Adam Tomkins [Conservatives] have both criticised the club’s approach to the abuse scandal after James McCafferty was recently jailed for more than six years for crimes committed during his time as a coach at the boys club.

Celtic fan Dornan accused the club and in particular Peter Lawwell of continuing to "abrogate your responsibilities" after seeing the "latest in a far too long line of Celtic Boys Club coaches being found guilty of the foulest abuses".

He added: "In my view, you bring nothing but shame to the reputation of Celtic and the wider Celtic family."

While Rangers fan and Tory MSP Adam Tomkins demanded the club create a compensation package - similar to Manchester City - for those who suffered abuse.

He said: "These are no longer allegations - in the cases in question they have been proved in a court of law."

Celtic chief speaks out

But Lawwell fired back at the politicians, stating: "The first misconception is that the club is doing nothing and abdicating responsibility. That is simply not true.

"Some time ago our insurers appointed a wholly independent and experienced lawyer who is investigating and dealing with this matter on behalf of the club.

"It would be quite inappropriate for us to be discussing highly sensitive and confidential legal matters in the media, and we will not do so, even if that means we come under criticism for following the due legal process.

"We respect any claimants' rights and out advisers will communicate with them and their representatives directly in the proper manner, respecting their rights to confidentiality.”

Lawwell also highlighted the SNP MSP’s letter, which ‘appeared to disregard the importance of the due process of law".

He added: "Unfortunately legal processes are slow, and are also generally confidential. We have had to balance all of these factors in how was have addressed the issues to date.

"While we recognise that this issue is in the public domain we do not consider that means that we should deal with the matter through the media, but rather through the legal system.

"We would stress that we regret that the incidents took place and reiterate our sympathy for all victims who suffered abuse. We are following legal advice and respecting an ongoing process.

"The matter continues to receive our full attention and that we take all our obligations, including legal, very seriously."

So while the likes of Dornan and Tomkins jump onto the bandwagon that is already overloaded with rabid Rangers fans demanding justice - maybe they should talk to their own party’s legal counsel before commenting or being judge and jury on an issue that has not been ruled on in any court of law.

Tomkins claimed that a compensation scheme similar to the one set up by Man City should be set up for the victims, but the scheme has already been condemned by victims for putting a price on what they endured. A scheme that was created so that victims did not drag the club through the courts with claims.

Likewise, ‘no win no fee’ ambulance chaser-esque Patrick McGuire is trying to find Celtic Football Club guilty of all allegations in the Scottish mainstream media without going to court. He continues to hit the headlines with new evidence being found and despite the evidence which he claims proves Celtic’s guilt and links to the boys club - he has still to approach the courts in Scotland to open proceedings against the club.

Why is this? Is he trying to call Celtic’s bluff? Is he trying to save his clients a long-drawn out court case? Is he looking to get paid without going to court?

Peter Lawwell has claimed that legal processes meant the club was ‘constrained’ in what it could say publicly and he would be correct. The club’s own lawyers would have told the Celtic board to remain silent or issue a carefully worded statement so as not to prejudice any potential court case(s) or public enquiries that may or may not occur in future.

Lawwell also stated that it was 'not appropriate to discuss sensitive legal matters "through newspapers or on social media" - despite those pointing the finger solely at Celtic using the mediums to fire broadsides at the club and its hierarchy.

An independent enquiry must be held

For those calling for an independent and public enquiry into child abuse crimes committed, I agree that such an enquiry must be held BUT an enquiry must not be solely focused on one club it must be held to look at all crimes committed at football clubs across Scotland to establish what happened, when it happened and who knew of the crimes.

Such an enquiry must be free from bandwagon-jumping politicians, those running the enquiry must be allowed to delve into every area of Scottish football - no matter the level, no matter the club or body - only then will we hear the truth, rather than listening to the sick and twisted claims of a rabid bunch of neanderthals looking for revenge no matter what.

A sick and twisted agenda

For seven years, Celtic fans cannot have a coherent conversation about football with Rangers fans without the latter screaming ‘Big Jock Knew’, ‘Your club lied’, ‘Paedos’ or ‘Your club rapes kids’.

Thompsons Solicitors, who are representing Child abuse victims across the country, have been high-profile in their demands for a compensation scheme to be established by Celtic Football Club. The ‘No Win No Fee compensation specialists’ - as they dub themselves - represent clients who have faced abuse among a plethora of institutions from the Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, Quarriers Village, the Royal Blind School, the Salvation Army and Children’s Homes up and down this country.

But while they have been high profile in their press coverage related to Celtic, little has been said of their other clients who suffered abuse at other football clubs - including Manchester United, Hibernian, Partick Thistle, Hutchison Vale, the Scottish FA and Rangers Football Club.

Yet it is fans of the latter who are the most vocal and most venomous when it comes to child abuse crimes - only when it involves Celtic mind you. They go silent, they ignore or they demand proof or label claims lies when you mention the child abuse crimes perpetrated by the likes of ex-Rangers employees Harry Dunn and Gordon Neely to name but a few. Before pointing the finger at Celtic once again

But what do you expect from a fan base, when their own club Rangers tell a child abuse victim to go to speak the liquidators over any claims.

Despite offering their sympathies to victims, Rangers’ only statement - in regards to child abuse crimes committed by former club employees - ended by them hitting out at those [in particular the BBC] over them facing questions over historic child abuse crimes.

Rangers statement added: "We will not respond to questions that seek to turn allegations of desperate and deplorable conduct from three or more decades ago into cheap and nasty attacks on Rangers Football Club, and those of its employees who now have to attend to such difficult matters."

A convenient rod for Rangers fans to hit Celtic fans with

An interesting line from Rangers claiming that the questions they were facing from journalists were ‘cheap and nasty attacks’ on the club. It’s a shame that the club remain silent on their fan bases’ same cheap and nasty attacks against the likes of Jock Stein - a man who put the Glasgow divide aside to help those Rangers fans injured and the dying in the aftermath of the 1971 Ibrox Disaster.

Rangers fan and When Saturday Comes contributor Alex Anderson, wrote a piece for the magazine several years ago denouncing his fellow Rangers fans..

In the article Anderson stated: “The less said about the whole horrible [Torbett] affair the better, one would think. However, the chance to link Celtic’s greatest manager – no matter how tenuously – with the crime du jour of the tabloid hysteric has proved too tempting for a mindset that has recently infected sections of my club’s support.

“I have shouted and sung some pretty horrible things in my 30 years of watching Rangers. To say that I was young/drunk/caught up in the moment doesn’t let me off the hook. But at no point did I ever try to present my most hateful, knee-jerk ­outpourings as fact. “Big Jock Knew”, however, is being proclaimed as the gospel.

“I’m bound to ask if it’s not a horrendously confused by-product of the recent disappearance of sectarian chanting at Ibrox. The two phenomena have certainly run parallel. When ground closure or Champions League points deductions were mooted last season, anti-Catholic lyrics sung at Ibrox for decades were dropped with alacrity. This clamp-down has since been adhered to and self-policed. It has exposed, once and for all, the bluster behind so much of our support’s previous sectarian posturing. Yet such a sudden culture change on the terraces almost demands a horrible side-effect.

“You need only see the pictures and hear the testimonies of him helping with the victims of the Ibrox disaster to know about Jock Stein as a man. This is partly why, three days after his death in 1986, the entire Rangers support at Kilbowie Park, Clydebank, stood in perfect silent tribute to the manager who’d given us some of the hardest times in our history. Now, by abusing his memory, we’re doing ourselves far more damage than even Stein could manage.”

I wrote a piece for Scotzine over seven years ago called ‘Child Abuse is not something to use as a tool to beat rivals with in football rivalry’ and I still stand by that, but I will add ‘especially when your own club has a history of such horrific crimes also’.

As a nation, Scotland must do everything it can to protect our youngsters from such crimes and as a 21st century society we should not be using such crimes as some sort of sick ‘you have more paedos than us’ game.

The rabid dog-like gloating from Rangers fans over the Celtic Boys Club child abuse scandal is disgusting. Their hijacking of the victims’ and families suffering has nothing to do with seeking justice for the crimes committed but their own sick and twisted dreams of Celtic being financially stricken through it - like they were through their own scandal involving tax dodging, which ultimately led to their club being liquidated - or honours being stripped for their continued fears as Celtic close the gap in the amount of silverware won.

Their chanting and signing about ‘paedos’ and ‘Big Jock Knew’ in football grounds across the country kills any claims of being concerned for the victims stone dead.

In 2012, Rangers blogger Bill McMurdo claimed that all the child abuse chants and songs was ‘a convenient rod for Rangers fans to beat their Celtic counterparts with’ and he is correct in that summation.

They hope that Celtic are involved and responsible for such horrific crimes so that they can have bragging rights over Celtic fans. A depraved, sick and twisted logic.

No matter who committed these horrific crimes, no matter who they were employed by, these individuals who targeted innocent children must be brought to justice and once found guilty jailed.

But don’t let anyone kid you on that Rangers fans signing ‘paedos’ and ‘Big Jock Knew’ opened up the investigations into child abuse crimes. It was the victims themselves speaking out to the media, to the authorities, to their own families that led the way. The courage of the victims should be praised - and the praise they deserve is justice for the crimes committed against them.

Let a Scotland in the 21st century seek justice for victims of child abuse, let the Scottish justice system give the victims the justice they deserve. Let’s have a Scotland that is free from neanderthals using child abuse crimes for their own sick and twisted agendas.