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Ruth Davidson has joined opposition parties to demand an independent inquiry into systematic sexual abuse at celtic FC’s feeder club and its links to the Parkhead outfit.
The Scottish Conservative leader claimed that survivors had been badly let down and called for an investigation to establish “what celtic FC knew about these offences and when they knew it”. Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats also called for a public inquiry.
The calls will heap further pressure on the premiership club to follow the example of Manchester City, which has apologised and offered to compensate victims of the paedophile former youth coach Barry Bennell.
Four men who held senior roles with celtic Boys Club (CBC) have been convicted of sexually assaulting dozens of children. While expressing “regret and sorrow” celtic FC insists it is not culpable for the abuse, describing the boys’ club as a separate organisation.
Ms Davidson outlined her views in a letter to a constituent, seen by The Times. “The reports that have emerged in recent years are extremely distressing and while it is welcome that [the CBC founder] Jim Torbett and others have been convicted for their depraved acts, this issue clearly goes wider,” she wrote.
“Any further allegations of criminality must be swiftly investigated by the police so that further criminal proceedings can be brought while necessary. Through a series of trials we now know something of the scale of the abuse committed by a number of men associated with CBC. What we do not know is what celtic FC knew about these offences and when they knew it.
“These questions must now be independently and fully investigated and, if necessary, a compensation scheme should be established such as that set up this year by Manchester City.”
She added: “It is clear that victims of child abuse in football have been let down and I very much hope Police Scotland, clubs and the Scottish FA will give them the closure they need and they justice they deserve.
“Please be assured the Scottish Conservatives will closely monitor developments on this matter over the coming weeks and months.”
Last month Peter Lawwell, the chief executive of celtic FC, said that the club had been conducting its own internal investigation for two years.
James Kelly, Scottish Labour’s football spokesman, said that its findings should be made public. He added that it would “clearly be in the best interests of all . . . for celtic Football Club to commit to a further public inquiry which is open and transparent. I have raised these issues directly with celtic FC on behalf of constituents.”
Pauline McNeill, a Glasgow Labour MSP and celtic supporter, said: “celtic FC should in some way contribute to any reparations made to those affected by historic abuse at CBC.”
A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokeswoman added: “We are in favour of an inquiry.”
The Scottish government said it was awaiting the publication of a report commissioned by the Scottish FA into historical sexual abuse within football. A spokeswoman said: “We will carefully consider its findings.”
Mr Lawwell said: “It would be inappropriate for us to be discussing highly sensitive and confidential legal matters in the media and we will not do so, even if that means we come under criticism for following the due legal process.”