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Manchester City not liable for Barry Bennell’s alleged abuse, judge told

A barrister leading the club’s legal team said eight men have not satisfied legal tests to establish its liability.

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Eight men claim Manchester City is liable for the harm they suffered at the hands of paedophile Barry Bennell (PA)

Eight men claim Manchester City is liable for the harm they suffered at the hands of paedophile Barry Bennell (PA)

Eight men claim Manchester City is liable for the harm they suffered at the hands of paedophile Barry Bennell (PA)

Lawyers representing Manchester City have told a High Court judge that the club is not liable for harm suffered by eight men who say they were abused by paedophile Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago.

A barrister leading City’s legal team on Thursday told Mr Justice Johnson that the court will have “very considerable sympathy” for the men.

But Michael Kent QC also told the judge the men have not satisfied legal tests to establish City’s liability.

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.

Mr Justice Johnson is overseeing a trial at the High Court in London and has heard evidence from the men and Bennell.

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

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

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

PA

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

The men claim 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 City is vicariously liable for harm they suffered.

City bosses deny that claim.

They say Bennell was a local City scout in the mid-1970s but not between 1979 and 1985.

Mr Kent told the judge “the court will have very considerable sympathy” for the eight men.

But he said Bennell’s “role” at City “ceased” in the late 1970s.

“What has been provided by the claimants does not get anywhere near satisfying what are the tests for vicarious liability,” Mr Kent told the judge.

“What has now become very clear is that Barry Bennell was never more than someone running his own junior sides… which were always independent of Manchester City Football Club.

“He was happy to recommend players to Manchester City. He was no doubt a fan of their club and knew people there. But there was no formal relationship between them.”

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