Celtic Diary Tuesday April 11: Have The BBC Bungled Their Investigation ?
Last night, on BBC Scotland, reporter Mark Daly told us of fresh accusations of child abuse at Celtic and other Scottish clubs.
Whilst he must be commended for highlighting the issue, and the victims praised for coming forward, the programme asked a few questions which it failed to answer, and perhaps the production team should have watched a preview before cramming it into the schedules.
In cases such as this, the primary concern has to be for those who are the subject of abuse.
In the programme, some of them were protrayed by actors, some chose to face the camera themselves. Both took a great deal of courage, though it has to be said those in front of the camera were clearly upset and perhaps it would have been better to have used actors consistently.
However, they came across convincingly, and hopefully their brave stance will encourage others. One would like to think they will now receive proper guidance and counselling in the aftermath of the programme.
Somewhat surprisingly, although I may have missed it, there was a failure to include some kind of helpline for those who have been similarly affected. I shudder to think that there may be others who have had demons awakened in the wee small hours this morning.
The serious nature of these alleged offences demands a mature and responsible attitude from the makers of the piece, and worryingly, it didn’t seem to be there.
There appeared to be an attitude of lets get it out there as opposed to one of lets be careful how we do this and consider all the possibilities afterwards.
There appeared to be an attitude of getting the story out with a little less concern for those affected. There was , too, a disregard for the legal process in this country.
That worries me.
First, the programme dealt with Gordon Neely. Neely died in 2014, which removed any possibility of him defending himself against the allegations.
Neely allegedly notably abused youngsters at Hibernian and Rangers, according to various testaments.
What concerned me about this case was that after he was sacked by Hibernian, he was employed at Rangers. The programme mentioned that no one at Hibernian told anyone at Rangers of the allegations.
What also concerns me is that no one at Rangers thought to check his references with Hibernian, something not mentioned in the programme.
It was as though it wasn’t their responsibility. In fact, it doesnlt seem to be anyones responsibility to check that they are not placing children into the care of abusers.
And according to the rules at the time, it appears that there was no need to check anyway… itself a fundamental fault within the system which even now hasn’t been rectified. Clubs still do not have to do any background checks on coaches.
For me, this would have been a major focus of the programme.
Paedophiles will infiltrate any organisation, something the BBC should be more aware of than most, and yet this crucial isue was glossed over.
At Celtic, one went to the extreme length of forming a boys club to get nearer his prey..
Jim Torbett, the man sacked by Jock Stein after allegations of abuse at Celtic Boys club, returned in 1980 to continue working with children.
This is inexcusable.
A club fires him for alleged abuse, and then re hires him after the man who sacked him has left.
It’s inexcusable is that the club did not report their fears to police in 1977, when he was first sacked. In fact, although he was sacked, the programme revealed it wasn’t quite worded in that way…
Again, unforgivable from Celtic.
It got even murkier when it was revealed that there were business links between Jack McGinn, Kevin Kelly, and Torbett that may have influenced the clubs decision to rehire Torbett.
However, in the interests of balance, the BBC should have mentioned that Torbett at this point had not been convicted of any crime, nor was he under investigation.
Thats still not an excuse for re-hiring him, far from it, but it should have been noted by the BBC.
Torbett wasn’t convicted until the late nineties, and even the most rigid of rules could not have prevented him applying for a job with kids in 1980 when he returned.
However, common sense should have.
All clubs should now carry out checks on all staff.
All clubs should now report any suspicions to the police. This is far too serious an issue for the SFA to deal with. It’s far too serious an issue for clubs to deal with.
Its been shown that they would prefer to leave the law out of it, and that is unacceptable.
The biggest failing of all, however, came when presenter Daly cobbled together a scene where he attempted to doorstep Torbett, adopting the style of Rogue Traders or Watchdog when they discover a fellow has been selling overpriced stairlifts to elderly women.
Torbett, of course, wasn’t home.as Daly seemed to know- the ” he’s still abroad ” comment implying that he already knew that.
Even if he had been, the sight of a camera crew and a BBC van outside might have made him suddenly remember where the kitchen window was.
Torbett is facing serious allegations.
I asked Daly on twitter if he had forwarded his dossier to the police, which would allow a proper investigation to take place, and support offered to victims at a professional level. He hasn’t replied as yet, but one hopes that Police Scotland are even as we speak reading through the testaments given on screen, and anything else that may have been left on the cutting room floor.
If he reads this, I’m sure he will give that assurance.
However, and heres the problem.
Whilst programmes like this draw attention to the behaviour of individuals such as Torbett, ho has “vehemently denied ” the allegations, his defence lawyer is now in a position to voice concerns about him receiving a fair trial.
In fact, theres no chance of him receiving a fair trial, and that is because of last nights programme and the repercussions.
The programme was a fantastic idea idea, and it may yet provoke changes within the game that remove -or at least lessen -opportunities for predatory peadophiles, but if the aim was to get Torbett to answer the allegations, , then it may well have done more harm than good.
For those of you who use social media, can I ask that you to think before posting anything. Remember the victims might be reading it, and they have been through enough without the ignorant casting their thoughts.
Never mind which club was employing which predator, the real issue is that anyone employed these people in the first place.
It’s shameful and unacceptable they were not reported to the police at the first whisper of abuse
And it must not be allowed to happen again.