Eight men who sued Manchester City after claiming they were abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago have lost a High Court fight.
The men, now in their 40s and 50s, said Bennell, now 68, abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in North West England between 1979 and 1985.
They claimed that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe Alexandra in 1985, was a scout for City during that time and argued the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.
They claimed City, referred to as MCFC, was vicariously liable for the harm they suffered, which club bosses denied.
All eight claimed damages for psychiatric injuries and six of them also claimed damages for loss of potential football earnings.
But Mr Justice Johnson ruled on Monday that the connection between the abuse and Bennell’s relationship with City was insufficient to give rise to vicarious liability.
The judge said: “The relationship gave Bennell the opportunity to commit the abuse, but MCFC had not entrusted the welfare of the claimants to Bennell.
“It follows that it has not been shown that MCFC is legally responsible for Bennell’s acts of abuse. Each claim is therefore dismissed.”
City said Bennell was a local City scout in the mid-1970s but not between 1979 and 1985.
Bennell is serving 34 years in prison after being found guilty in 2018 of a string of child sexual offences carried out between 1979 and 1991.
He gave evidence via video link from HMP Littlehey, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, and told the judge that he had been a “local scout” for City between 1975 and 1979, but not between 1979 and 1985.
The “reality”, he said, was that he “was never” a City coach and, “after 1978/1979”, junior teams he coached had “no connection at all” with City.