Legal Liability v Moral Responsibility

I’ll be completely honest from the outset about this article. I’m not qualified to write with authority on this subject but will attempt to deliver an opinion based on what I’ve read, heard and seen over the years.

Let’s start with a couple of basic truths. Child Abuse in any form is unacceptable. That’s the first one. The Sexual Abuse of a child is the most depraved, disgusting act you could inflict on a child. That’s the second. If you have been the victim of abuse I offer my sympathies and hope you are able to live a fulfilling life free from any overriding emotional scars.

Celtic has a duty of care to all of its employees, always. It always has had. The association it had with Celtic Boys Club is too obvious and too intrinsic for it to be anything other than a recognisable working relationship. I accept there is no legal relationship but that doesn’t detract from Celtic as the lead in the partnership having an obligation to ensure the safety and security of any children who were associated with the Boys Club. Then as now.

It’s as clear as you like that Celtic Boys Club was an organised paedophilia ring. How much Celtic knew about what was happening at the Boys Club will be debated for a long, long time I‘m sure. I’m 54 years old, and for as long as I can remember these allegations around the Boys Club had been rumoured. Is it possible or plausible that the Board of Celtic did not hear them or know about them? It’s almost impossible. That these crimes occurred in a different era before the introduction of Child Wellbeing Officers and Child Protection Officers does not exclude Celtic from criticism. No matter which way you look at it someone at Celtic must have known what was going on. Even back then there was right and wrong!

An unsavoury truth is it was different times; there wasn’t the same public awareness of the unacceptability of it. We were still belting kids in school in the early 80s, an acceptable form of abuse then! Growing up around Govan I know of 1 or 2 people who were allegedly involved in the abuse of kids and 1 who definitely was involved. As a group of kids we would talk about these people and make sure you were never alone around them. But that was it, you never told your Mum or Dad about them because they wouldn’t let you out to play. Different times indeed. Nowadays we control our kids’ movements, they all have mobile phones. We need to know where they are, at all times. It sometimes seems ridiculous but it is necessary. In this age of immediate news we are only too aware of things happening on the other side of the world, as they are happening. This increases our personal fears as we watch real-life dramas unfold before our very eyes. Remember Holly and Jessica in Soham, the hunt for them, the capture of the killer all played out live before our disbelieving eyes? Those poor little girls were murdered by the school janitor and his girlfriend provided an alibi for him. People the little girls knew and trusted. These are our fears for our kids, grandkids, friends’ kids, any kid.

I help run an Under 15 team my son plays in. I’ve been involved for about 4 years now. Child Wellbeing and Protection is EVERYTHING. We now have levels of access to kids, disclosure before you can work with or coach them, all kinds of courses to complete before you entrust your kid to us as strangers. You can’t just turn up and run a team like in the old days. You need to be able to prove you can be trusted. It’s impossible to do so but there are procedures to make it harder to put yourself in a position of trust. And you do everything in your power to do things right, to keep yourself above reproach. You don’t ever compromise yourself in any way. You can’t give a boy a lift to the game if you’re on your own. You can’t leave yourself alone in a changing room with a boy who’s late for the game. Really simple everyday things become suspicious in your own mind as you assess what’s right and what’s wrong just to make sure no allegations can be made against you. It’s a shame but we must protect our children by first protecting ourselves. We must! And it works, but it always did work. It was just that there were individuals who exploited people and systems. They’re still out there, but hopefully it’s becoming harder for them to succeed.

The crimes of Torbert (twice convicted for offences against a total of 6 boys), Cairney (convicted of 9 assaults on numerous boys) and McCafferty (convicted of sexual abuse of 10 boys) are disgusting beyond comprehension. These people were all working at the Boys Club. A fourth man Gerald King, a teacher from Glasgow was convicted of sexual abuse of 4 boys and a girl. He worked with Torbett at his Trophy Centre business. All of the convictions were for historical crimes. None of these people were reported to the Police by Celtic FC. That these crimes occurred in a different era before the introduction of Child Wellbeing Officers and Child Protection Officers does not exclude Celtic from criticism. No matter which way you look at it someone at Celtic must have known what was going on. And herein lies the problem in which Celtic find themselves pulled between a moral and a legal dilemma.

Celtic would surely be able to afford the best legal defence team to ensure any perceived liability was unproven. And rightly so, if they have no legal responsibility why would they accept it? They couldn’t. Celtic can’t. To do so would be an admission of guilt that doesn’t exist. So what, then? Assume moral liability? Yes!

Moral Liabilty comes after you have failed in your Moral Obligation. This is now Celtic’s only recourse and it is sad that they haven’t yet taken proper steps to ensure those affected by the crimes of the convicted monsters. Any offer of support to victims- and not necessarily financial- would have been the right starting point towards amends.

To offer counselling would have been a good starting point. To attempt to ascertain how many people were involved, both guilty and innocent, would have been another, financial help if necessary, legal support to claim due compensation. Any of these would have put Celtic in the driving seat; instead we’ve ducked and dived behind the Legal Liability and we’re now going to have to find a way out that doesn’t compromise our Legal or Moral position. We’re between a rock and a hard place.

Celtic have changed the way they operate regarding Boys’ Football and recruitment so there are now safeguards in place that are designed to offer maximum protection for kids. Also, it’s been said that Celtic have already instigated an independent review of the allegations against the Boys Club.
After watching the CH4 Alex Thomson reports I would doubt this to be the case. But this is probably a good time to start one. We need to be proactive NOW to ensure the Club is not further besmirched. The allegations against Celtic are real. We need to take them seriously.

The above guest article is by McCaff. Should you feel like sending in an article yourself we would be happy to publish and the email is

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February 29, 2020 6:23 am

Napster’s follow the link

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 6:26 am

Not an easy article to pen, I’m sure, but you’ve covered a very difficult topic with reason and sensitivity.

I’ve already made my feelings clear on this subject over several previous articles so can’t really add anything other than to reiterate that my overriding hope is that this matter is finally addressed and everyone can move on.

As I say, a very sensitive subject.

My thoughts on those screaming for Celtic to be punished, with no concern for the victims but for the purpose of point scoring and potential financial implications have also been made previously and I cannot add anything on that aspect either.

February 29, 2020 6:30 am

McCaff (P), I hate reading about this subject but I know it has to be discussed. It makes me sick to the stomach. I would rather read about your after the match reports. But if the c£40m money we have in the bank is for the victims I could live with that. It’s the least we could do. Celtic Boys Club may not have been legally tied to us but they were publicly. Give the money over. And then some.

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 6:33 am

How was your function last night? You’re up early so no hangover I’m guessing ?

February 29, 2020 6:46 am

I honestly don’t know how much money would help the victims. If it took some stress from them then that is good. But it wont get rid of the memories. I tend to think that the thought of other people trying to show support would help more. That they have our sympathy. After feeling alone and ‘guilty’, ‘stupid’ misunderstood. Ashamed. Our support could help in that direction. People love them in a proper way.

February 29, 2020 7:22 am

McCaff A highly commendable leader that must have been difficult to pen but needed saying.

The Gombeen Man
February 29, 2020 7:33 am

That’s right Jim. It’s the rejection that exacerbates the pain.

To be told on one hand that we are all members of the Celtic Family and then reject the children that played for Celtic Boy’s Club is farcical.
The PLC operate out of fear.
It’s time they acknowledged the harm done and stopped causing more harm.
It’s time Celtic grow up and accept their responsibilities.
Everything else is a distant second to this.

If we fail to address this and continue to turn our backs on the victims it’s game over.

February 29, 2020 8:11 am


Great work. You’ve covered a very difficult subject with great sensitivity and tact,while still making plain your anger at the offences committed against the innocent victims.

In my memory,I think Jock Stein was responsible for throwing Torbett out of Celtic Park,and as a result,out of Celtic Boy’s Club. While Jock deserves great credit for that-as does Bob Kelly,who backed the decision-it raises a number of questions which may be worth considering-given,as you point out,the times that are under discussion.

Firstly,let’s assume that Jock and Bob both had compelling evidence of what Torbett was doing. Their control of the club at that time was absolute,no-one would have questioned their actions.

So why didn’t they involve the police,given the seriousness of the situation? That’s the first question,and one which could be vital soon. They didn’t have to,as they had removed Torbett as a future threat-or so they thought but more on that later. Or perhaps their concept of proof was insufficient for criminal proceedings,and they had been so advised by a lawyer or police officer. We will,sadly,never know the answer to that,but what is certain is that it wasn’t done as part of a cover up,because they made Torbett’s removal very public. On this point,I think Celtic acted properly-given the prevailing times-but it leads directly to the part where I think the club has a big problem.

That arises from his readmission into the inner sanctum of the club around the mid-80s. Now,by this time there can be no doubt to anyone about the toxicity of Torbett. In fact,the Celtic View admitted in an article from,I think,1985 that the club had investigated allegations against him. Yet he was still welcomed back into the posh seats. I’ve always wondered who was behind this act of folly. But I’d forgotten that our chairman at the time,Jack McGinn,worked at The Trophy Centre. Which,as you reminded me,was owned by Torbett. Again,Mr McGinn is no longer with us,so we will never know the truth. But it is on this point that I think the legal liability to Celtic might lie,rather than on the contention that Celtic Boys Club was always a separate entity. We essentially gave him an alibi by our actions. And we waited till Jock was dead before we did so.

I also don’t believe it is a coincidence that Torbett was eventually tried and found guilty in 1998,soon after the arrival of Fergus. I’m sure Fergus holds information on the matter which will eventually be useful to all parties. This shouldn’t be seen as a witch hunt-though I have to be honest and say that the way it is being carried out is disgraceful-but as an opportunity to right any wrongs which have been done in the past by office bearers of the club. Nor is it a time for whataboutery as a defence. Let others throw mud at us for past failings,some things are more important. And restitution would be a good start.

A thing of beauty
February 29, 2020 8:25 am

A difficult article to write I’m sure mccaff but you did so with sensitivity and with the correct moral compass. I echo what twists said in that I’ve posted my thoughts before. I’m not interested in the legal position, it’s the moral position that matters now. We need to do the right thing and as JTT says if we need to use the £40m for that then that will be the right decision.

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 8:49 am

Newbury abandoned

craig 76
February 29, 2020 9:32 am

Bobby looks like boldmere in the 3.35 at donny is a n/r

February 29, 2020 9:48 am

I noticed BADABING posting last night that the coronavirus could actually prevent us winning the title this season,as the season could be declared null and void. Of course,this would not be confined to Celtic-promotion and relegation would also be deemed to be null and void.

As this is a potential scenario for a number of countries,should it prevent itself,UEFA will probably have to base entry for their competitions on the last valid and complete season-the previous one-and even that may be difficult as there is no guarantee of the virus being history by then. I’ve heard theories that viruses don’t tend to hang around too long in warmer weather,but nobody told that to the people who died of Ebola in West Africa recently.

The virus is clearly a problem which has been underestimated from the off. I spoke about this to my nephew while we were getting fed and watered last Saturday in Euston and Camden. I even told him that businesses discounted it at their peril,especially if any part of their supply chain was from East Asia or involved tourism. So I wasn’t too surprised at the stock markets getting their knickers in a twist.

But cancelling a football season? F..k that. Never mind FFP,VAR and goal-line technology,we need to introduce The Duckworth-Lewis Method.

But,and I go back to the start of this post,the problem wouldn’t be confined to Scotland. If the rest of the season were to be abandoned in Scotland,it would obviously also be the case in England.

And that would,quite honestly,be criminal in the case of the EPL.

February 29, 2020 9:50 am


Thanks,mate. I only noticed that when I tried to edit my bet after Newbury was abandoned. I actually expected that to go ahead,but with a radically altered going forecast. So two of my L/15 were from there.

Add in Boldmere,and I was left with a single. It had better bliddy win!

February 29, 2020 9:55 am


Oh,and welcome aboard! What took you so long?

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 10:05 am

As soon as all 4 x charity bet selections are in I’ll forward you a screen shot of the bet.

Waiting on BP and Bada then I’ll be on it.

craig 76
February 29, 2020 10:06 am

Bobby i have made the odd post now n then but tend to just lurk in the background
Twists BP nap was beat box 1.37 at kelso

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 10:12 am

Thanks Craig
I’ll have a look shortly for Bada’s

February 29, 2020 10:16 am


Don’t be shy,we don’t bite! Fire in with your thoughts on anything and everything. We’re a respectful lot on here,though prone to ripping the pish at times. Especially when my best pal SOLKITTS dredges up some minor moment of daft boayishness from my past.

To be fair,he’s got a few to pick from.

February 29, 2020 10:17 am


I’ve let CCE know,he was the only one when I checked who had napped there. I’ll mail any others too.

Dharma Bam
February 29, 2020 10:18 am

My first comment is that we have to admit that we do not know what investigations the club have carried out. And we’re are not in a position to know more about that maybe until after any legal actions have completed.
We do know what they have put in place as preventions – would it be reasonable to think they might be as organised regarding people who have already suffered?
We have to be careful for this not to turn into more of a witch-hunt. Until we know all of the facts, or as much as will be able to be released, about the club’s actions towards victims, we are making assumptions. And acting on assumptions when you know you are likely to know more about a situation, is not the best way to proceed.

The Exiled Tim
February 29, 2020 10:45 am

Not an easy thing to write about.
I have said for as long as I can remember that the money that is wasted trying to stop the illegal drugs trade should be diverted to tackling child abuse, my reasoning being that we have a choice if we want to partake in drugs of our choice, whether they are illegal or not we will take them if we so choose.
Children do not have that choice.
But as we all know that will never happen sad to say.

February 29, 2020 11:22 am


I think all of us just want the truth to come out,really. I don’t think it’s a witch hunt,though I’m pretty sure that there’s some petty point scoring taking place too. But there are real victims here,people whose lives have been ruined as a result-and also others who managed somehow to rebuild their lives despite it.

You have posted regularly on CQN for a long time,and will be well aware of TRAVELLERBHOY and his dark memories? He lost all five siblings as a result of the abuse they received as kids,either in their own small community or in the warped and perverted care system of the time that was meant to protect them. What he writes on CQN would make you weep,and I wish he could write a journal just the way he has done over the years there-fragmented horrors coming back to him,with no chronological order. It’s powerful stuff,and harrowing.

But I’ve met TRAVELLERBHOY a good few times,plus his wife and son. He’s remarkably well adjusted,and has made sure that his kids didn’t have to go through that. He can still have his dark moments though,but to be honest,he’s my kind of hero.

He has no recompense through the Scottish legal system,because records don’t exist. Or people are dead. Is that a proper way to deal with what happened to our friend? Of course not. And I don’t think that Celtic should use that either. But equally,I don’t want us to accept blame for something that was not our fault or making.

February 29, 2020 11:31 am

Bloody hell,I mentioned this to my nephew last week too! An out of control Cummings and the law,that someone will sue for constructive or unfair dismissal. Didn’t realise that it would be at such a high level,right enough.

My Dad was always desperate to fight a constructive dismissal case back in his union days,but his company always caved at the mention of it. Must be the only thing on his bucket list still to tick off!

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 11:42 am

If yer about stick yer nap up please bud. I’m going out and need to get the charity bet on. Danka

February 29, 2020 12:14 pm

The T.U. rep in charge of FDA, bringing the constructive dismissal case,Dave Penman, is a good friend of mine.
I believe that another constructive dismissal case has already been filed. The one where Cummings had someone, frogmarched out the building, for standing up to him.
We have lost touch in the past few years, life gets in the way,
His brother John is on the board at Partick Thistle.
The whole family are Thistle to the core.
I’ve said he’s a brave man doing this, as no doubt this Gov will already be trying to dig out any dirt on him.

Timbhoy 2
February 29, 2020 1:11 pm

Jack McGinn,ex Chairman of Celtic Football Club,no longer there?

February 29, 2020 1:18 pm

BMCUWP Former Chairman Kevin Kelly was a Director of The Trophy Centre company.

February 29, 2020 1:28 pm
Bada Bing
February 29, 2020 1:30 pm

Twists- sorry for late nap

February 29, 2020 1:39 pm


Aye,The nothing to hide so nothing to fear theory doesn’t exist in real life. If you have a weasel like Cummings on your case,he will find something or someone.

I’m lucky. If I get pulled up for anything,I just go…


February 29, 2020 1:40 pm

Thanks for all the positive comments today, guys. Everybody knows the right thing for Celtic to do. It should have been done years ago but it’s never too late.
The post notes show what I’ve thought for years, McGinn must have known – at least in part – something of what was going on. Perhaps by employing him Torbett closed down any thoughts McGinn had of reporting him. At the time McGinn had a young family, maybe putting bread on the table was significantly more important. If that’s the case it’d be hard to be too critical of him. Different times and all that!

February 29, 2020 1:42 pm

The most disturbing aspect of the BoJo administration, and to be fair there’s a few, is that Cummings seems to be the Puppetmaster! Unelected Puppetmaster!

February 29, 2020 1:55 pm

It’s not a subject we should have to talk about and it’s certainly not a pleasant subject to discuss. Having a relatively young family and being involved with our wee fitba team does tend to focus the mind with regards to the welfare of not only my kids but other peoples’ too. Their safety and ability to grow into caring, responsible adults is a huge responsibility which must be taken seriously.

Bada Bing
February 29, 2020 2:00 pm

Nap won at 6/1,hope Twists got the line on.

February 29, 2020 2:03 pm

Bada Well done mate ???

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 2:04 pm

It’s on. I posted selections on the naps pag

Nice winner.


We have a £4 double left with my own selection. £28 running on at 11/4.

Potential £105 returns. Fingers Xd

February 29, 2020 2:04 pm

McCaff, I swear to god I’d never heard of child abuse until I was in my twenties, I must have had a sheltered life. I could never have made a connection between sex and children, I was stunned when I read about a pervert in Edinburgh campaigning to make consensual sex with children legal. I was stunned.
As you say, times are changing. Even then I think it was seen as being ‘weird’ rather than hellish. I think back in the day people didn’t realise how horrific it was. They joked about it being par for the course in private schools.
Thank goodness people have woken up to what it means to the victims.

Bada Bing
February 29, 2020 2:10 pm

Cheers Bhoys, well done Twists ?

Bada Bing
February 29, 2020 2:11 pm

G64- Vogue today?

February 29, 2020 2:18 pm

Twisty, that’s my nap on. The odds on favourite in a 3 horse race! If this doesn’t win I’m giving up.

(Only kidding, I’m a mug) 🙂

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 2:23 pm

You’d think it’s a good thing eh!

February 29, 2020 2:29 pm

Twisty, you know something, don’t you? Hell, I bet it’s second! Grrr. 🙁

February 29, 2020 2:37 pm

perspective re Thursdays result. Celtic Star article today, remember 1971 cup final 4-1 Partick, look at Celtic line up, 1972 cup final Raith winners after penalties. Maestro missed his. Massive support for him and team in next game.

I am 60, followed Celtic all these years, never once has it entered my head to say I have had enough. There had in that time been total mismanagement by the various boards. BUT you know what, I will always give 100% backing to whatever set of players pulling on the treasured hoops. Through thick and thin.

February 29, 2020 2:40 pm

Bada ???

February 29, 2020 2:40 pm

MarioB, You’re in good company here my friend. Support the team but keep an eye on the board.

February 29, 2020 2:48 pm

The frustrating thing about supporting the team over the years is how they are recruited, selected and coached. How they are sent out to play. Even successful managers like our current one, make mistakes. But once they put the hoops on, they are ours.

Mike in Toronto
February 29, 2020 2:49 pm

Apparently sales of Corona beer have dropped, due to fears of the corona virus. Seriously.

I wonder if that is why Harry and Megs decided to drop their royal titles….

Twists n Turns
February 29, 2020 2:52 pm

Charity bet bites the dust unfortunately. Hey ho. Shame given that good winner Bada had.

February 29, 2020 2:55 pm

JTT53 how true and sad. There is no structure or forward planning, it always seems today and no tomorrow. I think Ronny was let down in that respect. He had a vision but no back up from anyone. Too many Scottish players and coaching staff saying – am no daein that, this is how it’s always been done, IMO.

February 29, 2020 2:59 pm

Absence of responsibility.
Celtic PLC

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