Judge Lord Arthurson gave permission on Thursday (12 May) for the action against the Parkhead club to be stopped for six months.
A former Celtic Boys Club player, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is suing the Hoops for compensation. The man claims that the Glasgow side didn’t do enough to prevent him from being abused by people in positions of authority at the Boys Club.
The judge gave the ruling after being addressed by advocate Ian Mackay QC. Mr MacKay also acts for a group of former Celtic Boys Club players in a US style ‘class action’.
In that action, 22 former players say they were abused whilst playing for the youth side and they are suing the club for millions of pounds in a compensation claim. On Thursday in the non class action matter, Mr Mackay asked Lord Arthurson to ‘sist’ the - a Scots law expression for pause - the action for six months.
The court heard that it was unable to progress at this time. Lawyers for Celtic opposed the request. The court heard that Celtic’s right to have a fair trial would be compromised by the move. But during a virtual hearing of the Court of Session, Lord Arthurson ruled in favour of the motion made by the sex abuse survivor’s lawyers.
He said: “I am satisfied that it is appropriate for the pursuer’s motion to be granted. I will limit the sist for a period of six months.”
Earlier this year, Lord Arthurson gave permission on Thursday for 22 former Celtic Boys Club players to sue the Hoops. He had heard the action should proceed because the two entities were “intimately connected” to each other - a claim denied by Celtic FC’s legal team who say the two organisations were separate from each other.
The sex abuse survivors have brought “group proceedings” against Celtic FC PLC - the procedure is similar to US class action style litigations. During proceedings for this action, Mr Mackay told Lord Arthurson that lawyers for the men have uncovered evidence which shows apparent close links between Celtic Boys Club and Celtic FC. He said the evidence showed that the two entities were “intimately connected” and that his clients should be allowed to sue Celtic.
Mr Mackay said: “Celtic Boys Club was intimately connected to Celtic Football Club - it was branded as being closely connected to Celtic Football Club.
“Players played in Celtic strips and wore blazers which were virtually identical to those worn by Celtic FC players.
“Football kit, holdalls and training gear were provided by Celtic Football Club.
“The pursuers’ understanding was that they were playing for the boys club of Celtic Football Club.
“Celtic Boys Club trained at Barrowfield, the training ground of Celtic Football Club and Celtic Park as well as elsewhere.
“Celtic Football Club exercised control over who played for Celtic Boys Club because scouts recruited players who they considered were good enough to play for Celtic Football Club and diverted them to Celtic Football Club.
“The Boys Club was a nursery for senior team players. Celtic Boys Club was in effect what could be now known as the academy of Celtic Football Club.
“Articles about Celtic Boys Club appeared regularly in the Celtic View, the club’s newspaper - and the club was referred to as being part of the Celtic family.“Celtic is vicariously liable for assaults.”
On Thursday, during a procedural hearing for the non class action case, Celtic’s lawyer Ewen Campbell said the matter should continue to progress.
He said that to stop it could compromise Celtic’s right to fair proceedings. He added: “The motion to sist should be refused. We are dealing with matters which deal with events which date back decades ago - some of them date back to the 1960s.
“With witnesses who are now elderly and are relying upon memories of events. In my submission, that is another factor which deals with the need for progress to be made.
“In my submission my lord, the sist should be refused, the court should fix a procedural hearing.”
However, Lord Arthurson refused to grant Celtic’s request.
The case will resume later this year. The Class Action proceedings continue to run separately. Celtic contest the cases.