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Stadium expert stands by his claims on Casement Park bullying


Casement Park

Casement Park

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Casement Park

A stadium expert who alleged he was bullied after raising safety concerns about the new Casement Park is standing by his claims, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

Paul Scott said he was put under "undue pressure" to approve plans for the rebuild of the GAA ground, but an independent probe commissioned by the Department for Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL) cleared officials of wrongdoing.

A copy of the report marked 'Official - Sensitive' and obtained by this newspaper said there was no basis for the allegations.

But in a statement issued exclusively by his solicitor to this newspaper, Mr Scott - who is widely regarded as one of Europe's leading stadium safety experts - reaffirmed his position on the matter.

"Mr Scott confirms that he stands by his address and the documentary evidence submitted to the CAL Committee on April 30, 2015, which prompted the investigation by DCAL into its own officers," it said.

"Mr Scott has been informed of the outcome of the investigation but has not seen the actual report.

"He is therefore unable to comment further in relation to its findings."

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The statement added: "In addition, Mr Scott has been instructed by his employer, Sport NI, against making statements to the media.

"Indeed, he has been warned about the potential disciplinary consequences of doing so. This unfortunately also affects his ability to comment other than to reaffirm his already stated position."

Casement Park is undergoing a £76m revamp as part of a Government commitment to upgrade outdated sports facilities.

The GAA wants to build a 38,000-seater stadium on the current west Belfast site at Andersonstown Road.

In May Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin ordered a full review of the redevelopment plan after concerns over a Hillsborough-style crush were raised by Mr Scott. Ninety-six football fans died at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield.

Mr Scott, from the Safety Technical Group, said there were only two small exits at the proposed new Casement venue and warned that, if an emergency occurred, people could be crushed.

Mr Scott claimed that he was put under "undue pressure" by Government officials to approve plans for the new ground, adding that he had been left feeling stressed and suffering from sleepless nights following alleged bullying by DCAL officials.

DCAL commissioned an independent investigation by John Hunter QC into the allegations.

Mr Hunter concluded that the evidence provided by Mr Scott to support his claims of bullying was "limited and largely general in nature".

It had not, he added, been independently corroborated by witnesses with the sole exception of a colleague in Sport NI.

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