Eight men lose High Court battle against Manchester City over Barry Bennell abuse

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

Judge rules against men who sued the football club, after claiming that City was vicariously liable for the harm they suffered from ex-coach Bennell between 1979 and 1985.

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Eight men who sued Manchester City after complaining of being abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago have lost a High Court fight.

The men said Bennell abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in north-west England between 1979 and 1985.

They said that Bennell was a scout for City during that time, argued that the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”, and claimed City were vicariously liable for the harm they suffered.

Court artist sketch dated 30/11/2021 by Elizabeth Cook of Barry Bennell appearing via video link at the High Court in London.
Court artist sketch dated 30/11/2021 by Elizabeth Cook of Barry Bennell appearing via video link at the High Court in London.

A judge ruled against the men on Monday.

Mr Justice Johnson said: “The connection between the abuse and Bennell’s relationship with MCFC is insufficient to give rise to vicarious liability.

“The relationship gave Bennell the opportunity to commit the abuse, but MCFC had not entrusted the welfare of the claimants to Bennell.

“It follows that it has not been shown that MCFC is legally responsible for Bennell’s acts of abuse.”

He added: “Each claim is therefore dismissed.”

Lawyer David McClenaghan, who represented the men, said: “My clients and I are both shocked and dismayed at the High Court decision handed down today which declined to award them substantial damages in their claims against Manchester City Football Club for abuse suffered at the hands of Barry Bennell.”