Man who sued Manchester City after Bennell abuse says apology means ‘nothing’

A man who sued Manchester City for damages after complaining of being abused by paedophile former scout Barry Bennell as a boy has told a High Court judge that an apology from the club would mean nothing to him.

The man told Mr Justice Johnson he had not taken part in a compensation scheme set up by the club because he did not agree with its terms and conditions.

He said City had dictated, not negotiated, and told the judge: “Their apology means nothing to me any more.”

The man, one of eight who have taken legal action against City, was giving evidence on the second day of a trial at the High Court in London.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that Bennell, who worked as a coach at Crewe Alexandra, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US – and is being held at Littlehey prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

He has been told the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985, and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

The eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell abused them when they were playing youth football in the north-west of England more than 30 years ago.

They say Bennell was operating as a Manchester City scout at the time.

City dispute claims made by the men.

Lawyers representing the club say Bennell was a “local scout” in the mid-1970s but say he did not have a role in the 1980s.

City deny that Bennell was an employee or in a relationship “akin to employment” at “the material times” and deny being vicariously liable.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard how the club had set up a compensation scheme more than four years ago.

The man told the judge that he had not been compensated by the scheme.

“I didn’t agree with the terms and conditions they had,” he said.

“They didn’t negotiate, they dictated. They said to us, ‘it’s this way or the highway’.”

He went on: “They have done nothing in my case to resolve things.”

The man, the first of the eight to give evidence at the trial, recalled first meeting Bennell in the early 1980s when a schoolboy.

Bennell had approached his father and carried a blue card describing him as Manchester City’s “north-west representative”, he said.

The man said he subsequently trained at Manchester City’s training ground.

“Bennell would walk through the doors, no problem,” the man told Mr Justice Johnson.

“Everybody knew him.”

The man added: “He did have a role, quite clearly, at Manchester City.”

He went on: “He ran, coached and scouted for them, their teams and their players.”

The man, who the judge heard wants more than £200,000 in compensation for lost earnings, said Manchester City “had some control” over Bennell.

Mr Justice Johnson has ruled the man cannot be identified in media reports of the case.