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Barry Bennell ‘quite clearly’ had role at Manchester City, judge told

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Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell “quite clearly” had a role at Manchester City in the 1980s, a man who has sued the Premier League champions after complaining of abuse when a child has told a High Court trial.

The man, one of eight men who have taken legal action against Manchester City, told a judge on Tuesday that he first met Bennell in the early 1980s when a schoolboy.

He told Mr Justice Johnson that “everybody knew” Bennell at Manchester City.

The eight men, now in their 40s and 50s, have made damages claims against Manchester City and say Bennell abused them when they were playing youth football in the north-west of England more than 30 years ago.

They say Bennell was operating as a Manchester City scout, and want damages from the club.

Mr Justice Johnson, who is overseeing a trial in the High Court in London, has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985, and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

Barry Bennell Damages Trial
Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City disputes claims made by the men.

Lawyers say Bennell was a “local scout” in the mid-1970s but say he did not have a role in the 1980s.

The judge has heard that Bennell, who worked as a coach at Crewe Alexandra, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions – four in the UK and one in the US – and is being held at Littlehey prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

The man, the first of the eight to give evidence at the trial, recalled first meeting Bennell in the early 1980s when a schoolboy.

Bennell had approached his father and carried a blue card describing him as Manchester City’s “north-west representative”, he said.

The man said he subsequently trained at Manchester City’s training ground.

“Bennell would walk through the doors, no problem,” the man told Mr Justice Johnson.

“Everybody knew him.”

The man added: “He did have a role, quite clearly, at Manchester City.”

The man told the judge: “He ran, coached and scouted for them, their teams and their players.”

The man, who, the judge heard, wants more than £200 000 in compensation for lost earnings, said Manchester City “had some control” over Bennell.

Mr Justice Johnson has ruled that the man cannot be identified in media reports of the case.

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