Floodlights: The Barry Bennell docudrama is a ‘painful reminder of justice not fully done’ for abuse survivors

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Liam Goggin

Partner, Head of Abuse Claims

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A feature-length factual drama that shined a light on the horrific abuse experienced by young footballers at the hands of former Crewe Alexandra coach, Barry Bennell aired on May 17th 2022. It served as a ‘painful reminder of justice not fully done’ for many survivors, as brave victims spoke out against the coach.

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Simpson Millar successfully pursued claim against Crewe Alexandra FC

In 2018, Bennell was jailed for child sexual abuse offences against 22 different male victims, although it is expected that the actual victim count was in the hundreds. The offences happened between 1979 and 1988, and the victims were just 11 and 14 years of age.

Floodlights, which aired in May 2022 on BBC2, documented the brave decision of Andy Woodward to speak up about the sexual abuse he experienced while being coached by paedophile Barry Bennell.

Speaking publicly about his ordeal in November 2016, the former Bury FC and Sheffield Utd player’s testimony encouraged hundreds more men to come forward about the abuse they had sustained in similar circumstances.

Around 100 victims are believed to have since come forward with allegations specifically against Bennell, a former Manchester City scout, who was also a former coach at Crewe Alexandra, and Stoke City football clubs.

He was later found guilty of dozens of charges of historical child sexual abuse, and in October 2020 he was given an extended jail sentence for additional offences.

While the extended sentence means Bennell will not be released from prison until he is in his 80s, lawyers who have acted on behalf of a number of his alleged victims to secure compensation for their suffering, said his punishment doesn’t reflect the ‘true extent’ of his crimes.

Liam Goggin from Simpson Millar’s specialist abuse law team said: “This docudrama will I hope shine a light on the extent of the abuse that took place within the footballing community and hopefully will provide many survivors with the confidence to speak up for the first time about their suffering. That’s important.

“However, while Bennell has been found guilty of a large number of child sexual abuse offences, we know that there are more cases which have been reported but have not led to a criminal conviction.

“For those individuals, Floodlights will sadly act as a painful reminder of justice not fully done.”

Liam explains that the police are not able to take all cases forwards and generally concentrate their resources on the cases that are evidentially the strongest to ensure the best chance of a conviction.

But Liam added that it was important for others who had suffered abuse by Bennell to know that they could still pursue a civil claim. He said: “While a criminal conviction may not always be possible, it’s important to note that those who have suffered as a result of his deplorable behaviour can still bring a claim for compensation.

“For many of our clients bringing a claim for compensation does at least provide some comfort, and some sense that justice has been done.

“We strongly urge anybody who feels they may have been a victim of Bennell, or any other abuser, to seek legal advice. An abuse law expert can advise you on your rights, and your options, and will always be there to provide support in complete confidence.”

 

It is never too Late to report Historical Abuse

Courts do have times limits in place for bringing compensation claims. But where the claim is for sexual abuse, the Court does have the ability to disapply these time limits. The Court has this ability to change the time frame rule, as they understand there are many reasons why victims don’t come forward straight away.

 

How can an Abuse Solicitor Help?

We know how difficult it can be to speak out about any kind of abuse, especially if you’ve been keeping it to yourself for years or even decades. You might be feeling worried about bringing up traumatic memories, or that it’s too late to do anything about the abuse you experienced.

Our Abuse Solicitors have many years of combined experience in helping survivors of non-recent abuse. We understand that every person will have different circumstances and needs, we will tailor our service and communication to make sure you feel as comfortable and supported as possible throughout the claims process.

If you experienced abuse a long time ago, don’t be deterred from pursuing legal action. We’ll work hard to collate as much as evidence as we can to support your claim and help you to access the support and compensation you deserve. Call us on 0808 239 1287, because when you’re ready to talk, we’re ready to listen.

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Profile picture of Liam Goggin

Liam Goggin

Partner, Head of Abuse Claims

Areas of Expertise:
Abuse Claims

Liam works as the Head of the Department in Abuse Claims at Simpson Millar.

In this role, he oversees a team of experienced abuse lawyers and is a part of our Leadership Team. His primary focus is on Child Abuse Claims, and he handles cases against schools, local authorities, religious and charitable organisations, private companies, and notably cases for individuals who have been criminally convicted of offences.

References

The Guardian. (2022, May 17). "Floodlights review – drama about the abuse scandal that shook football." [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/may/17/floodlights-review-andy-woodward-football-drama-barry-bennell

The Guardian. (2020, October 8). "Barry Bennell sentenced to fifth jail term for sexual offences against boys." [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/football/2020/oct/08/barry-bennell-sentenced-to-fifth-jail-term-for-sexual-offences-against-boys

The Guardian. (2022, May 12). "Floodlights: Secrets Kill – the harrowing drama about sexual abuse in football." [Online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2022/may/12/floodlights-secrets-kill-the-harrowing-drama-about-sexual-abuse-in-football-barry-bennell

Simpson Millar. (n.d.). "How to Claim Compensation for Historic Child Abuse in the UK." [Online] Available at: https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/media/abuse-claims/how-to-claim-compensation-for-historic-child-abuse-uk/

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