George Ormond and Newcastle United: The Independent Review into Childhood Sexual Abuse in Football 1970 – 2005
After a long wait, the Football Association has finally published the findings from Clive Sheldon QC’s review into child sexual abuse in the football industry. At Bolt Burdon Kemp, we represent the survivors of many of the abusers named in the report. This includes representing those bringing claims connected to George Ormond, who abused many young boys at Montagu and Fenham Football Club and Newcastle United, between the 1970’s and 1990’s.
Whilst the publication of the 710 page report is welcomed by survivors of abuse, many are now asking the question: “how will this affect my legal case?”
The review found that Ormond was a prolific abuser of young boys throughout the period. He abused boys at both clubs on a regular basis. The numerous accounts of his abuse, given to the review and at the two criminal trials of Ormond, show a clear pattern of offending.
Ormond used his position at Newcastle United to sexually abuse young boys and get away with it. He preyed on vulnerable young boys with big ambitions in the football industry. He threatened to “crush their dreams” in order to ensure their silence. He manipulated the parents of young players and abused their children in the most brazen manner, with one survivor even being abused by Ormond in his own bedroom at home.
The review also found that, whilst he may not have been paid a salary, Ormond was essentially employed by the club and was seen by players as “a club official”. The report clearly sets out that Ormond’s role at the club is what gave him the opportunity to access and abuse young boys. It was found that his duties included:
- Providing first aid
- Providing physiotherapy massages (despite having no qualifications)
- Transporting players to and from team accommodation
- Transporting players to tournaments
- Attending away games and trips abroad with the team
Although Newcastle United have admitted they were liable for acts committed which were part of his role, they do not admit that all of the above were in fact part of his role at the club. Hopefully the findings in the report will encourage Newcastle United to accept liability for the full extent of Ormond’s abuse against their young players.
Shockingly, the report also found that senior staff at the club, John Carver and John Murray, failed to remove Ormond from the club for many months after learning of an allegation against him. During this period, from May 1997, Ormond was allowed unrestricted access to boys at the club and was even allowed to travel abroad with the team. Accounts of survivors confirm that further abuse took place during this period and could have been prevented. Whilst many survivors believe staff were aware of Ormond’s abuse prior to May 1997, the review was unable to confirm this.
The report concluded that Carver and Murray made two material failures:
- Failing to remove Ormond following a disclosure of abuse in May 1997
- Failing to escalate the issue within the internal hierarchy of the club
Upon receipt of the report, Newcastle United issued a statement, which included the following:
Newcastle United acknowledges and welcomes the publication of ‘The Independent Review into Child Sexual Abuse in Football 1970 – 2005’ … The Club would like to take the opportunity to express its sincere apologies and sympathy to all individuals affected by historic abuse in football and commend the bravery of those who have come forward and shared their stories. Newcastle United condemns any and all forms of abuse and shares a collective commitment to ensuring any lessons are learned so that football is safe for everyone.
In light of the review’s findings, I sincerely hope that Newcastle United adopts a conciliatory approach towards survivors of Ormond’s abuse. As well as offering apologies and committing to improving its practices going forward, I would invite the club to accept the accounts of survivors and admit liability for the full extent of Ormond’s abuse. If the club is willing to accept that it failed these young men, it should also be willing to fairly compensate them for the damage done to their lives.