Men suing Man City over Bennell abuse claims have established case, says lawyer

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Eight men who have sued Manchester City after complaining of being abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago have satisfied legal components required to establish their case, a barrister argued at the High Court.

James Counsell QC, who is leading the men’s legal team, told Mr Justice Johnson that City’s “main witness” had been Bennell.

He said it had been demonstrated that Bennell was an “abject liar”.

The eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, say Bennell abused them when they were playing schoolboy football for teams he coached in north-west England between 1979 and 1985.

Barry Bennell damages
Manchester City bosses say Barry Bennell’s ‘role’ at the club ended in the late 1970s (PA)

Lawyers representing both sides are making closing legal arguments and the trial is due to end on Friday.

The men claim that Bennell, who became a coach at Crewe Alexandra in 1985, was a scout for City during that time and they argue the relationship between Bennell and City was “one of employment or one akin to employment”.

They say the club is vicariously liable for harm they suffered.

City bosses deny that claim.

“In this case, the defendant took the surprising decision to rely, as its main witness, upon the evidence of a prolific paedophile,” Mr Counsell told the judge in a written argument.

“Bennell’s evidence was the central plank supporting the arguments that the defendant chose to run.”

Mr Counsell added: “It probably did not need the best part of two days’ cross-examination to demonstrate that he (Bennell) is an abject liar.”

He went on: “All of the components required to establish vicarious liability are satisfied in this case.”

Lawyers representing City have said the judge “will have very considerable sympathy” for the eight men.

But they say Bennell’s “role” at City “ceased” in the late 1970s.

They have argued that evidence provided by the men “does not get anywhere near” satisfying “tests for vicarious liability”.

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