Chelsea, Palace ig­nored abuse tip-off: Ex de­tec­tive

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON:

Premier League lead­ers Chelsea and fel­low Lon­don side Crys­tal Palace dis­missed a po­lice warn­ing about a scout who had been con­victed for im­port­ing child-abuse images, the de­tec­tive who alerted them told The Times yesterday.

Clive Driscoll, who rose to the rank of chief in­spec­tor be­fore re­tir­ing, said he might as well have been phon­ing “from the moon” when he made the call in 2001 about the scout John Butcher.

Butcher was con­victed in 1993 of at­tempt­ing to smug­gle child-abuse images into Eng­land from the Nether­lands and in 2009 he was put on the sex of­fend­ers register for seven years af­ter he was caught look­ing at in­de­cent images.

Butcher, 67, is adamant he has “never phys­i­cally abused chil­dren”. The rev­e­la­tions-which will add to the deep­en­ing dis­may of how foot­ball re­acted to the al­le­ga­tions at the time in a scan­dal that has rocked the foundations of the multi-bil­lion pound sport-come days af­ter Lon­don po­lice re­vealed they were look­ing into al­le­ga­tions of abuse at 30 Lon­don clubs in­clud­ing four un­named Premier League sides.

It was af­ter Butcher’s ear­lier of­fence that Driscoll got in touch with Chelsea, Crys­tal Palace and Mill­wall over Butcher, who op­er­ated as a free­lance scout.

“I spoke to Mill­wall, Chelsea and Palace about Butcher and warned them about him in 2001,” he said. “I was a de­tec­tive in­spec­tor at the time and I was phon­ing them from the po­lice, 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.” Driscoll, who suc­cess­fully brought the killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence to trial af­ter years of frus­tra­tion over the ini­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion on the part of the vic­tim’s fam­ily, said he im­pressed on the clubs the se­ri­ous­ness of the mat­ter.

“All they were con­cerned about was that he was a good scout, the foot­ball I was say­ing this is slightly more im­por­tant than that, that this guy had a con­vic­tion for im­port­ing child pornog­ra­phy.”

His rev­e­la­tions will make fur­ther un­com­fort­able read­ing for Chelsea-whose present owner, the Rus­sian oli­garch Ro­man Abramovich, took over two years af­ter Driscoll in­formed the club of Butcher’s con­vic­tion.

His regime was lam­basted for im­pos­ing a gag­ging or­der on for­mer youth player Gary John­son as a con­di­tion of a 2015 agree­ment to pay him 50,000 pounds ($63,850, 59,230 eu­ros) over abuse he suf­fered at the hands of for­mer scout Ed­die Heath.

GREATER COM­PEN­SA­TION

Sev­eral other for­mer Chelsea youth play­ers-in­clud­ing a re­tired po­lice­man have come for­ward since John­son broke the gag­ging or­der to al­lege Heath, who died in 1983 aged 54, had ei­ther abused them or they knew of his abuse.

Chelsea have launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion-headed by a lawyer-into the al­le­ga­tions about Heath with some spec­u­lat­ing that the club could face a group ac­tion law suit cost­ing them po­ten­tially mil­lions. — AFP

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