LAWYERS representing survivors of sexual abuse who have been given the go-ahead for multi-million pound 'class action' style lawsuit against Celtic FC say the club "must now face up to its responsibilities".

Lord Arthurson has sanctioned the action by 22 former Celtic Boys Club players to launch a compensation claim against the Parkhead club.

Celtic, which opposed the action has previously said that it was “appalled by any form of historic abuse” but maintained it was a “separate entity” to the boys club.

The judge gave the ruling after advocate Ian Mackay QC said the men who suffered abuse whilst playing for the boys club should be entitled to compensation.

The players in the action say the club and the boys club were “intimately connected” to each other.

Lord Arthurson said: “Having considered parties’ position on the supposed permission application, I am satisfied that the relevant criteria in granting this application has been established and I can exercise my discretion to grant the application.

“The averments which the pursuers offer to prove set out a background in respect that each was a player with Celtic BC when they were subject to sexual assaults and when they were under the supervision and control of these individuals.

"The common issue in the proceedings is the question of the vicarious liability of the defenders for the actions of these individuals.

"The court accordingly grants the permission application."

The Herald:

Group proceedings were introduced into the legal system in 2020. They allow groups of two or more people with the same, or similar, claims to raise a single action in the Court of Session.

Four men associated with Celtic or the boys' club – including Jim Torbett and Frank Cairney.

After the hearing, Patrick McGuire a partner with Thompsons Solicitors who leads the legal team representing Celtic Boys Club abuse survivors said: “The court has sent a clear message to Celtic FC that it will not countenance the club‘s continued efforts to engage delay tactics and hide behind legal technicalities. This is a watershed moment.

"Celtic must now face up to [their] responsibilities and immediately begin meaningful discussions towards ensuring that every survivor receives full financial justice and compensation.”

Celtic said: "Given the ongoing legal proceedings, it is not appropriate for us to provide any comment however we would reiterate that the club is dealing with these sensitive matters in a responsible manner and in conjunction with its advisers".

In 2020 Celtic stated they wre "appalled" by historic child abuse, and they said they were 'very sorry' it ever took place.

It said it wanted to reiterate its "sincere sympathy, regret and sorrow for those affected".

The statement came after a sixth Celtic Boys' club coach was at the time thought to be at the centre of new child abuse claims.

"In light of recent speculation and to seek to avoid any confusion, the club wishes to confirm its position regarding the historic abuse that took place at Celtic Football club and Celtic Boys’ club," said the club.

"Celtic Football club is appalled by any form of historic abuse and has great sympathy for those who suffered abuse and for their families. The club is very sorry that these events took place. The abuse of young people is an abhorrent crime. Unfortunately it has affected many areas of society.

"With regard to the allegations regarding historic abuse at Celtic Boys’ club (which, so far as we have been made aware, relate to the period prior to 1997), although Celtic Football club is a separate organisation, we take these extremely seriously because of the historic contacts between the two organisations.

"Police investigations were given support, so as to seek to ensure that those individuals who abused young people were brought to justice."

Representatives for the players taking the action say there was evidence which shows the boys club and Celtic were "intimately connected".

But representatives for Celtic said that the action should not go forward believing the club would not get a fair trial as crucial documents relating to the relationship between the boys team and the club were missing.

But Lord Arthurson said the issues were not so great as to force the action to halt.

Cairney was jailed for four years in 2019 after being convicted of nine charges of molesting young boys at football clubs he ran between 1965 and 1986. He was found to have abused the teens while running St Columba's Boys Guild in Viewpark, Lanarkshire, and the under-16s team at Celtic Boys Club.

Cairney joined Celtic Boys Club in 1971 after being asked to run the youth side by legendary manager Jock Stein.

In November, 2018 Boys Club founder Jim Torbett (below) was jailed for six years, after being convicted of sexually abusing three boys over an eight-year period.

The Herald:

Another coach, and former Celtic Boys Club chairman, Gerald King, was convicted in December, 2018, of abusing boys at a school and was given a three-year probation order.

Celtic Boys' Club was founded by Torbett in 1966 with the permission of the then Celtic FC manager, the late Jock Stein and former chairman Sir Robert Kelly.

It was created as a separate entity from the football club, but it has been closely linked throughout its history and acted as a feeder group, producing a string of Celtic players including Roy Aitken, Paul McStay and Tommy Burns.

In its 2020 statement, Celtic added: "The club has been at the leading edge in Scottish football of putting welfare and safeguarding protections in place for our young people and continues to work with Scottish football to make it a safe place for young people.

"In summary, these are historic issues, which the club is dealing with in a responsible manner and in conjunction with its advisers. The club reiterates its sincere sympathy, regret and sorrow for those affected. As we have said repeatedly, the club will stand by its responsibilities, respecting the due process of law."