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Celtic threatened with legal action over paedophile Jim Torbett

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Jim Torbett was jailed for six years at the High Court in Glasgow

Celtic has been warned it faces legal action if it fails to meet victims of paedophile Jim Torbett.

The Celtic Boys Club founder was jailed for six years on Monday for sexually abusing three boys over an eight-year period.

After mounting criticism Celtic issued a statement on Wednesday expressing “deep regret” over Torbett’s crimes.

But Thompsons solicitors said it did not go far enough and has issued the Scottish champions with an ultimatum.

‘Right the wrongs’

In a direct message to the Parkhead board, solicitor Patrick McGuire said: “Please meet with me and my clients now and let us get this situation sorted out.

“This is an opportunity for Celtic to right the wrongs of the past and to lead the way in Scottish football where a club believes survivors and lives up to their responsibilities.

“I truly hope you do but if not then we will see you in court.”

The Glasgow-based firm is currently representing 10 former Celtic Boys Club players, including Kenny Campbell.

The grandfather was one of the men who helped convict Torbett, 71, after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Mr Campbell said: “What makes me so sad is the way Celtic have just ignored me and other survivors.

“I see they have issued some sort of apology but it’s not enough.

“They need to accept responsibility for what was done and settle these legal cases.”

Mr Campbell also urged other victims to come forward.

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Kenny Campbell waived his right to anonymity

Celtic had been criticised for its silence following Torbett’s conviction at the High Court in Glasgow.

But after a two-day silence it said it had taken the allegations of abuse “extremely seriously” because of its “historic contacts” with Celtic Boys Club.

The club published the statement on its website.

It said: “Celtic Football Club wishes to express our deep regret that the incidents took place and sympathy for the victims who suffered abuse.

“We are grateful for the courage of those who have come forward to report abuse and to give evidence after such a long period of time.

“We have great respect for them and their families as they continue to cope with the distressing effects of the abuse they suffered.”

Torbett, of Kelvindale, Glasgow, founded Celtic Boys Club in 1966.

The ex-football coach was jailed for two years after being found guilty of shameless indecency in November 1998.

Justice then caught up with Torbett for a second time after an investigation by BBC journalists Mark Daly and Calum McKay.

On Monday, he was found guilty of abusing three boys between August 1986 and August 1994.

Following his conviction, Celtic was criticised for its failure to comment on the case.

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Jock Stein (left) presented Torbett (centre) with an award three years after he allegedly threw him out of the club

In the statement issued on Wednesday, the club said allegations regarding abuse at Celtic Boys Club had first emerged in the 1990s.

It continued: “Although Celtic Football Club is an entirely separate organisation, we have always taken these allegations extremely seriously because of our historic contacts with Celtic Boys Club.

“All investigations by the police and other inquiries were given our full support. We encouraged any individuals involved to report all information to the police so that matters could be investigated fully.

“Celtic Football Club continues to encourage any victim of abuse to report these crimes to the police.”

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Patrick McGuire has vowed to take Celtic to court if it fails to meet his clients

The club said it had taken steps to develop a new code of conduct and procedures to protect young people and became the first club in Scotland to appoint a safeguarding officer.

But Mr McGuire described Celtic’s claims that the football club and the boys club were separate as “preposterous”.

He added: “What myself and my clients cannot fathom is why Celtic continue to ignore and dismiss the impact of these disgraceful crimes committed under their watch.

“The effect that Torbett’s actions have had on my clients cannot be described.

“I have sat with these men and listened to them recount what happened to them and how it ruined their lives. I can tell you it is absolutely heartbreaking.

“It is all the more shocking when you think that this happened while they were supposed to be under the protection of one of Scotland’s most well known and loved institutions, Celtic Football Club.”

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