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Historic Abuse

Historic Abuse

If you have suffered historic abuse, whether phyical or sexual, when involved with sport and you are ready to talk we are here to help.

Football continues to be beset by allegations of historical child abuse with large numbers of potential suspects identified and 148 clubs spanning all tiers of the game involved.

Since former Crewe, Bury and Sheffield United player Andy Woodward, who has waived his right to anonymity following his abuse as a youth player many others have come forward. Many footballers including former England and Tottenham midfielder Paul Stewart and ex-Manchester City striker David White have also gone public with their stories.

The Offside Trust has been set up to help victims of historic abuse.

To tell others that you have been abused requires great courage. It is a step that is never taken without considerable thought and with some trepidation. Bringing a compensation claim is not a mechanistic process; it requires skilled work undertaken by an experienced solicitor to prove the abuser carried out the acts complained of. It also requires proof that the abusers employer has legal responsibility for the abuse. We will address the issue of delay, if it arises, and obtain medical evidence to demonstrate the effects of the harm done.

We will not ask you for the precise details of what happened to you at a first (or even a second) meeting unless you wish to. The initial meeting will seek to understand the background to when, where and how the assaults took place. We will appreciate the difficulties around speaking about the assaults. We will advise you about the process, the prospects of success and the no win no fee funding agreement. historic abuse


We understand that confidentiality is important to you. We are bound by confidentiality and all information you tell us remains confidential. As part of your claim it will become necessary for certain people to have access to information, for example medical experts and the defendant(s). We always seek your authority to disclose such information. You remain in control of your case.

If it becomes necessary to issue court proceedings we can make an application to do so anonymously in order to protect your identity.

Reporting the abuse to the police

We recommend reporting the allegations of abuse to the police. This is necessary as a criminal offence has been committed and, accordingly, those assaults should be investigated. A report to the police is also important for the sexual abuse compensation, as the police investigation running parallel with the compensation claim can assist by improving chances of success.

The police are sensitive to the effects of child abuse and therefore will assign specially trained police officers to interview you.

If you have already reported the matter to the police, we will obtain that information from them.

Contact your doctor

We recommend that you report the historic abuse to your GP if you have not already done so. It is important that, irrespective of the claim for compensation, medical help is sought to deal with the consequences of the abuse. The effects of abuse can be very harmful over many years and therefore medical support is essential for you to cope in the longer term. Your GP will not have the training to counsel you but will have access to confidential counselling and other therapies.

It is likely that it will be necessary to obtain expert evidence in support of your claim for historic abuse. In particular medical evidence which will detail the injuries that you have suffered. Abuse affects each person individually and injuries can be physical, psychological or a combination of both. We will help in obtaining the necessary assessments and reports from medical experts.

How to Prepare Yourself to Seek Compensation

Prepare a file containing records

  • Create a file containing records and dates of the historic abuse, the address of the institution and the name of the individuals involved.
  • If you feel able, start to write down what happened to you.
  • Records can form part of the sexual abuse compensation claim, if only to demonstrate that an individual was a member of a club or attended a school between specific dates. We will obtain such records.

Obstacles and Issues to bear in mind

Unfortunately, abusers rarely admit their actions and have little concern for the impact of what they have done.

Many abusers take advantage of children through their employment or voluntary work. In those circumstances, the employer or sporting body may be legally responsible for their actions. However, without cooperation from the alleged abuser, they too may be slow to admit legal responsibility. Consequently it may be necessary to commence legal proceedings. However that does not necessarily mean that you will have to go to trial as the vast majority of cases settle sutside court by way of negotiation.

When pursuing historic abuse compensation, various defences can be raised by the abuser or their employer (or their insurers who pay the compensation). They may argue that the allegations have been brought too late, ie. outside the normal three year time limit to bring such claims.

However, this time limit is flexible in historic abuse cases. The courts recognise the difficulties an individual may have in making allegations at the time of the assaults. However delay is still an argument that victims have to overcome. You will need to explain why the allegation of abuse was not made earlier.

This could be as a result of:

  • Your mental and physical health in the years following the abuse
  • Life events which may have prevented you from contacting the police and legal representatives
  • Other personal issues which would have prevented you from making an earlier claim


Survivors of sexual abuse or assault may be eligible to make a claim for historic abuse compensation against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). This Government run body manages a scheme that allows for abuse compensation payments to be made in certain circumstances.

To make a claim you must in most cases:

  • Report the matter to the police
  • Make your application to the CICA within 2 years of the crime
  • OR within 2 years of first reporting the matter to the police

BE AWARE: The CICA do have discretion to override these conditions and you can still make a claim on appeal.

Litigation claims against an organisation

Claims against organisations, business or other public body who employed the abuser. We must show that they failed in their basic duty to protect you. This applies to sporting clubs and academies, care homes, schools and churches etc.

The abuse claims process can be lengthy. To provide you with the least amount of stress we will provide you with regular updates; if you would prefer not to receive updates, just let us know.

If we need to issue court proceedings we can make an application to do so anonymously in order to protect your identity.

What to do now

If you want to discuss bringing a claim for historic abuse then call our team in confidence.

When calling if you state it is an ‘abuse claim’ and you will speak only with a solicitor.

Call Freephone 0800 470 2009 or email Dr Victoria Handley on and we will call you.


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