Chelsea’s si­lence ‘ broke no rules’

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Lon­don

The cur­rent Chelsea regime did not break any rules by keep­ing quiet about al­le­ga­tions of sex abuse suf­fered by for­mer youth player Gary John­son, the English Premier League said on Thurs­day.

“Af­ter care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion, the board has de­ter­mined that no Premier League rules were bro­ken by the club not re­port­ing this mat­ter to them in 2014,” the Premier League said in a state­ment.

The league said it has in­sisted Chelsea — whose present owner, Rus­sian oli­garch Ro­man Abramovich, took over years af­ter the abuse — re­tains an in­de­pen­dent ex­pert to carry out a full safe­guard­ing au­dit.

“The league has no rea­son to have any con­cerns about Chelsea’s cur­rent pro­vi­sions in this area, but, given the se­ri­ous­ness of th­ese his­tor­i­cal al­le­ga­tions, feels such a re­view is an ap­pro­pri­ate course of ac­tion,” it added.

Chelsea ad­di­tion­ally has to pro­vide the league with de­tails of the club’s in­ter­nal re­view on his­toric abuse, launched af­ter John­son and sev­eral other for­mer play­ers came for­ward to claim they had been abused by scout Ed­die Heath back in the 1970’s.

The league said Chelsea has agreed to the re­quests.

The club and Abramovich have been lam­basted for im­pos­ing a gag or­der as a con­di­tion of pay­ing John­son $63,850 com­pen­sa­tion in 2015 for the abuse he was sub­jected to at the hands of Heath.

John­son, now 57, broke the gag or­der once other for­mer play­ers came for­ward to claim they had been vic­tims of sex abuse decades ago.

He told the BBC he would be seek­ing greater com­pen­sa­tion from Chelsea as the abuse had “taken away his child­hood”.

There has been some spec­u­la­tion that Chelsea could face a group ac­tion law­suit that could po­ten­tially cost the club mil­lions.

Heath, who died in 1983 at age 54, was fired by Chelsea in 1979 by then man­ager Ge­off Hurst, not for sex­ual im­pro­pri­ety but be­cause he spent more time dec­o­rat­ing his of­fice than scouting.

He moved on to an­other Lon­don club, Charl­ton Ath­letic, where a for­mer youth player al­leges he was abused by him.

It is not known whether Chelsea is one of the four Lon­don-based Premier League teams un­der police in­ves­ti­ga­tion over his­toric abuse.

Twenty-six other clubs from the cap­i­tal are also in­volved.

For­mer de­tec­tive Clive Driscoll said on Fri­day that Chelsea and an­other cur­rent Premier League club, Crys­tal Palace, had dis­missed his warn­ing in 2001 about an­other scout.

John Butcher had been con­victed in 1993 of at­tempt­ing to smug­gle child abuse im­ages into Eng­land from the Nether­lands.

“I spoke to Mill­wall, Chelsea and Palace about Butcher and warned them about him in 2001,” Driscoll told The Times.

“I was a de­tec­tive in­spec­tor at the time and I was phon­ing them from police head­quar­ters, but I might as well have been phon­ing from the moon.

“I was say­ing he had a con­vic­tion but they just treated it as a foot­ball mat­ter,” said Driscoll, who dur­ing his ca­reer suc­cess­fully brought the white killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence to trial af­ter years of frus­tra­tion over the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered by Op­er­a­tion Hy­drant — the UK-wide police in­ves­ti­ga­tion into non-re­cent sex­ual abuse of chil­dren — 148 clubs are now in­volved, with 155 po­ten­tial sus­pects and 429 vic­tims, rang­ing in age from four to 20.

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