Barry Bennell set to give evidence at High Court trial later this month

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Paedophile former football coach Barry Bennell is expected to give evidence to a High Court trial on behalf of Manchester City later this month, lawyers say.

City have been sued by eight men who say Bennell abused them more than 30 years ago when they were playing youth football in the north-west of England.

The men say Bennell was operating as a Manchester City scout when they were abused.

A judge is overseeing a High Court trial in London.

Barry Bennell victims
A general view of Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium (Nick Potts/PA)

Mr Justice Johnson has heard that Bennell, who worked as a coach at Crewe Alexandra, is serving a 34-year prison sentence after being convicted of sexual offences against boys on five separate occasions, four in the UK and one in the US, and is being held at Littlehey prison near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

Bennell, now 67, was scheduled to give evidence in December.

But lawyers say they now expect him to appear, via video-link from prison, later this month.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard the eight men were sexually and emotionally abused by Bennell between 1979 and 1985 and are claiming damages after suffering psychiatric injuries.

Six are also claiming damages for loss of potential football earnings.

One victim has told the judge that Bennell carried a Manchester City calling card describing himself as the club’s north-west representative.

Barry Bennell damages
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE A business card given out by Barry Bennell in which he describes himself as Manchester City’s “north-west representative’. The card has been shown at the High Court (Bolt Burdon Kemp/PA)

City dispute claims made by the men.

Lawyers representing City say Bennell was a “local scout” in the mid-1970s but did not have a role in the 1980s.

City deny that Bennell was an employee or in a relationship “akin to employment” at “the material times” and deny being vicariously liable.

Mr Justice Johnson has heard how the club had set up a compensation scheme more than four years ago.

Barrister James Counsell QC, who is leading the men’s legal team, has told the judge that City had taken a “tactical decision” to call Bennell and he said the club was basing its defence “full square” on information received from one of Britain’s “most notorious paedophiles”.

But Michael Kent QC, who is leading City’s legal team, suggested that calling Bennell as a witness was the only option.

He said Manchester City’s former chief scout Ken Barnes had died and former club secretary Bernard Halford was also dead.

Mr Kent told the judge that “Bennell himself” was the “only other person” still alive who could “speak to these matters with actual knowledge of the situation”.

A psychiatrist on Monday told the judge that two of Bennell’s victims were suffering from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dr Andrew Mogg said he had diagnosed symptoms of complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in two of the eight men.

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