Club Statement on Torbett- A Response

Club Statement on Torbett- A Response

The club have released a statement in the aftermath of the James Torbett conviction;

FOLLOWING the conviction of Mr James Torbett at Glasgow Sheriff Court, Celtic Football Club wishes to express our deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse. We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time. We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered.

Allegations regarding abuse at Celtic Boys’ Club first emerged in the 1990s. Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys’ Club. All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support. We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully. Celtic Football Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these crimes to the police.

After the allegations became known in the 1990s, Celtic Football Club took steps to develop a new code of conduct and procedures to protect young people. Since then, Celtic Football Club has been at the leading edge of putting welfare and safeguarding protections in place for our young people. We were the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer, developing policies for the protection of young people and monitoring and reviewing our procedures to ensure they continue to reflect best practice. 

The abuse of children is an issue affecting many areas of society, including a large number of football clubs, sports clubs, youth organisations, educational institutions and religious bodies across Britain. Celtic Football Club strongly believes that children and young people involved in football have the right to protection from all forms of harm and abuse and is committed to ensuring this and to promoting their wellbeing through continued cooperation with our children and young people, parents and carers and the relevant authorities.  

It’s a welcome statement, and its also quite informative.

It confirms that the club are not going to disassociate from the scandal, and it expresses regret that it happened. There’s little else they could add to that, apart from perhaps offering support, if requested, to those affected.

There are calls for a full investigation in the media and elsewhere, but whats important to remember is that allegations were investigated by the police when they were first made.

There was also a television documentary which asked for others to come forward, and this resulted in the conviction this week.

As I see it, after a police investigation which led to a conviction, and an appeal for evidence on national television, both fully supported by the club, there is little else that they could have done up to this point.

That is not to say that those who were represented in court were the only victims, and indeed there may now be further charges brought, and further witnesses who come forward.

It may even encourage others who were affected at other clubs to come forward.

It must be stressed that this is a problem throughout football, and indeed , society, and Celtic must not allow a scenario to develop where they are the only ones to be associated with the guilt, because that would mean that others would have been allowed to get away with their crimes.

In short, other offenders would be hiding under the blanket of publicity surrounding this case.

Again , thats not to absolve the club of any responsibility, but to encourage them to take the first steps in widening the scope of any investigation. Having seen the effects of having a man such as Torbett associated, however loosely, with the club, means that Celtic  are fully aware of the trauma affecting the victims, , and whilst other clubs and the SFA, who must bear some of the responsibility, may be reluctant to continue with any further probing, to my mind there are still victims out there suffering in silence, and their welfare is the priority, and Celtic appear to have addressed that in the statement, but by taking the initiative and offering help, all of those affected can be helped to seek justice.

By initiating some  kind of counselling for the families , via an anonymous telephone line, or email address, victims may be encouraged to come forward, with the protection of anonymity, to enable police to investigate further.

There has been one full investigation, and it was twenty years ago, when perhaps the facilities to come forward could be said to be inadequate, so an appeal for further information may help those who were too afraid to come forward.

But although initiated and supported by Celtic, it should be open to all victims from all sports, and all of those institutions where those who prey on our young were allowed to have access to the most vulnerable members of our society.

If its possible to find anything positive in this abhorrent crime, then it might just be to create a sanctuary where others who have been abused can move toward, and find the help that they need in seeking justice, and more importantly, a chance to rebuild their lives.

At the moment, people are making their conclusions based on hindsight, whereas perhaps we should be using a little more foresight.