09 DEC 2016

Child sexual abuse in football

Kent Messenger Column - 09-12-16

Prior to becoming the MP for Maidstone & The Weald I was a family lawyer for 23 years. One of my most harrowing cases came to me as a 'straightforward' injunction referral from the local police. I was asked by my client 'X' to get a Court Order to prevent persons 'Y' and 'Z' from having any contact with 'X'. It was, however, the proverbial tip of an iceberg.

Many months later I'd uncovered long running allegations of physical, sexual and ritualistic child abuse, reaching far wider than those directly involved in my case, the details of which still trouble me today.

Sadly and commonly the facts in such cases can take so long to come forward for a myriad of reasons; some connected with continuing control by the perpetrator, or fear that the victim will be disbelieved, but also sometimes because the subject of the abuse (wrongly) feels somehow partly to blame for what happened to them.

The uncovering of decades of widespread child sex abuse in football over the past three weeks has been an outpouring of great sadness, but I also believe it could be a watershed. Some courageous people have suddenly felt empowered to speak out, abandon anonymity and seek justice. In doing so they have put the establishment on immediate notice that change and accountability is about to weigh heavily upon them.

This is not just a football issue. It pervades all reaches of society, in every generation, where the trust of a younger person is preyed upon by someone in a position of power, influence and control. My hope is that this publicity will help many others realise they do not have to suffer in silence, and that by speaking out they may help protect and educate current and future generations from suffering similar trauma. Please contact [agency details here] to report something that has happened to you or someone you know.

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