ABUSE: First Minister urged to launch child football abuse inquiry

Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay, First Minister Humza Yousaf and Nicola Sturgeon MSP with local colleagues. Above: A school football match in Dumbarton.

By Bill Heaney

Humza Yousaf has been urged to launch an inquiry into widespread child sex abuse in Scottish football over many decades.

Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay has written to the First Minister asking for action on behalf of survivors.

The Scottish Conservative justice spokesman believes the “heart-breaking scandal” should be investigated by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) or a new independent inquiry.

Findlay previously asked former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon about why the inquiry’s remit did not include abuse in football.  

Nicola Sturgeon responded by saying that the “remit and conduct of a public inquiry is entirely for the inquiry” and that “ministers cannot intervene”.

Findlay also previously wrote to the SCAI on behalf of a victim abused by senior legal figures. In response, the SCAI said that its terms of reference, set by ministers, only allow it to investigate abuse of “children in care”.

In his letter to Humza Yousaf, Findlay asks the First Minister to end the “confusion”.

Russell Findlay MSP, said: Countless youngsters who dreamed of stardom or just loved football were targeted by predatory paedophiles. The heart-breaking scandal of widespread abuse of young footballers was suppressed for far too long. 

“While many of these criminals have now been convicted of heinous attacks, significant questions remain unanswered. 

“Survivors deserve to know the full extent of the abuse scandal, exactly what connections abusers had with clubs and other abusers, and why whistleblowers were silenced.

“Some clubs spent decades evading scrutiny and dodging responsibility. They did so with a disgraceful disregard for those whose lives were often destroyed or even cut short.

“I cannot begin to understand how painful and bitterly disappointing it must be for those who feel unheard and excluded from the inquiry and I hope that Humza Yousaf will bring much needed clarity about how survivors’ voices can he heard.

“Scotland’s football abuse scandal must be examined, whether by the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry or a new independent inquiry. This process should be fearless, transparent and without any more delay. The many victims deserve no less.

Meanwhile, responding to the latest letter from CEO David Tydeman confirming further cost increases and delays to the building of the two Ferguson ferries, Scottish Liberal Democrat Willie Rennie MSP, left,  said: “18 months ago when the Finance Secretary announced that costs had risen, delays would happen and islanders would have to just suck it up, I asked whether this was the final round of excuses and whether she would resign if the project went even further off the rails.

“Today, we find out that costs have risen again, delays have risen again and islanders are still expected to just suck it up.

“These ferries were contracted by government-owned CMAL, paid for by the government, built originally by a company celebrated by the government and when it collapsed it was owned by the government.

“It’s time for the government to demonstrate some accountability.”

The letter from Russell Findlay to First Minister Humza Yousaf is here:


 February 9, 2023

Russell Findlay (West Scotland) (Con)

The BBC documentary “Beneath the Magic Circle Affair” cast light on a very dark and distressing subject. Senior members of Scotland’s legal establishment sexually abused children for decades. Susie Henderson’s childhood was destroyed at the hands of her untouchable QC father and his vile associates, and yet the Government’s child abuse inquiry will not hear evidence about that. Other survivors, including young footballers, have called for the inquiry to broaden its scope. I ask Nicola Sturgeon whether that will happen.

The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon)

 First, I say that the content of the BBC documentary was extremely distressing and disturbing. I think that all of us want to ensure that those matters are properly investigated in the appropriate way. Obviously, any criminal investigations are for the Crown, and it would be deeply inappropriate for me or anybody else to comment on that.

On the Scottish child abuse inquiry, I absolutely hear the points that the member is making, but as he is aware, under the Inquiries Act 2005, the remit and conduct of a public inquiry is entirely for the inquiry, and the chair of the inquiry, and ministers cannot intervene in that. However, it is really important that all of the matters raised are properly scrutinised, probed and investigated in whatever way is necessary. I think that that is something that all of us want to ensure is the case.

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