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Eight suing City after Bennell abuse have not found ‘closure’ – judge told

·2-min read

Eight men who sued Manchester City after saying they were abused by former scout Barry Bennell more than 30 years ago have not found “closure”, a lawyer has told a High Court judge at a trial.

James Counsell QC, who is leading the men’s legal team, has told Mr Justice Johnson that in most cases the men’s symptoms were “now worse”.

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.

Barry Bennell Damages Trial
A general view of the Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium PA/Martin Rickett

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.

Manchester City dispute claims made by the men.

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 being held at Littlehey prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Mr Counsell told the judge on Tuesday that the men had not found “closure” and added: “In most cases these claimants’ symptoms are now worse than they were before.”

He said there were reasons why proceedings had not been brought earlier.

Mr Counsell said the men had been very young when abused and had been traumatised.

He said they had feared bullying and worried that disclosure would damage their chances of becoming professional footballers.

Mr Counsell told the judge: “Most of these claimants tried to deal with their ordeal by trying to block it out.”

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