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Chelsea ‘paid me £50,000 to keep quiet about sexual abuse’

Gary Johnson

A former Chelsea footballer claims the club paid him £50,000 to keep quiet about allegations of sexual abuse by a former chief scout.

Gary Johnson told the Mirror he had been abused as a youth player in the 1970s by Eddie Heath, who is now dead.

According to the Mirror, in 2015 Mr Johnson signed a confidentiality agreement and accepted £50,000 from the club, but they did not accept blame.

Chelsea said they had appointed a law firm to investigate a former employee.

The latest allegations about sexual abuse in football come as police say about 350 victims have now reported historical incidents within UK clubs.

‘Others out there’

Mr Johnson, 57, was a member of Chelsea’s first team from 1978 to 1981.

He joined the club as an 11-year-old in 1970 and said he had been groomed from the age of 13 by Heath.

He said once the abuse had begun, Heath would attack him at “every opportunity”, adding: “He would get me naked in bed, try more adventurous things.”

He said: “During the course of this three to four years, he got me to perform in threesomes with other boys, so I know there are other victims out there – it is now up to them if they come forward.”

Mr Johnson told the Mirror he went to police in 2014 and was advised to “go back to Chelsea”.

He went to a law firm who approached Chelsea for compensation.

“They basically said ‘prove it’,” said Mr Johnson. “It made me feel like they thought I was faking it.”

The BBC understands that the confidentiality clause was lifted on Wednesday.

‘Gagging order’

He said: “Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world.

“All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order. How many others are there out there?

“They may have paid others for their silence. I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up – no-one should escape justice.”

In a statement Chelsea said: “Chelsea Football Club has retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation concerning an individual employed by the club in the 1970s, who is now deceased.

“The club has also contacted the FA to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation.

“This will include providing the FA with any relevant information arising out of the club’s investigation.”

Mirror editor Lloyd Embley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Mr Johnson had felt empowered to contact the paper after other former footballers began speaking out about having been abused within the game.

‘Astounded by it’

Mr Embley said that Chelsea had been right to lift the confidentiality clause, but there were still questions as to why the money had been paid.

He said: “Premier League rules would seem to suggest that a club would need to come forward and say if they had evidence of child abuse.”

There are now 17 forces looking into allegations of historical child sexual abuse in football.

The National Police Chiefs’ Council said a “significant number of calls” had been received after several former players alleged past abuse by coaches.

The NSPCC says more than 860 people have called its dedicated football hotline, set up a week ago.

On Thursday, former Newcastle United player David Eatock told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show that he had been abused by coach George Ormond.

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David Eatock

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David Eatock has made allegations against a former Newcastle coach

Sir John Hall, chairman of Newcastle United at that time, said he had not been made aware of any allegations or rumours of abuse when in charge.

“I’m horrified at the thought that these paedophiles actually could use their position, or whatever it is, to abuse young boys.”

He added: “I think everybody’s astounded by it.”

Sir John said that if anyone had known, they had kept it from him.

He said: “I used to keep a tight ship – but had I heard about it I would have stamped on it straight away.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38179882