`JOCK STEIN COVERED UP BOYS' CLUB SEX SHAME' Ex-chief tells court Celtic did nothing.
Torbett, who is now accused of abusing three boys while he was at the club, was literally kicked out of Parkhead by Stein, a court heard.
But, when the claims subsequently surfaced, Stein and the directors were anxious to keep the image of the club clean and nothing more was done.
The claim was made by former Boys' Club chairman Hugh Birt, 61, who told Glasgow Sheriff Court that, when he first heard the allegations, he didn't have enough evidence to go to the police.
Asked how he felt about giving evidence against Torbett, he replied: "It's a tremendous relief for me because I have been carrying it about for 25 years."
Birt said he was asked to become chairman when Torbett was "put out" of the Boys' Club.
Asked who got rid of him, Birt said: "According to Mr Stein, he literally put his foot up his backside and kicked him out. It was all covered up by Celtic Football Club as to why he was kicked out."
He admitted that he had had a good relationship with Torbett, who returned to the Boys' Club several years later as a fundraiser.
Birt said: "There was a lot of hearsay going on and it wasn't until Jim came back that I got involved in it because things started up again."
He told how he took the allegations against Torbett to the Celtic board and Stein, and even told the then vice-chairman, Kevin Kelly, about them.
He said: "I couldn't go to the police without actual proof of the allegations. When I joined as chairman, I was told by Jock Stein to keep the name of Celtic Football Club clean at all times."
He denied a suggestion from Alan Nicol, defending, that he was a "troublemaker" who'd been forced to leave the Boys' Club for spreading gossip about the sexuality of a referee.
Mr Kelly, 61, is a director of Torbett's firm, Trophy Centre.
He said that, during his time as Celtic vice- chairman, no-one made any allegations. He also denied ever meeting Birt to discuss claims against Torbett.
Another Trophy Centre director, Gerald McAleer, 42, who played for the Boys' Club when Torbett was there, denied that his silence had been bought.
As a youngster, he had gone on trips with other boys to the cinema and restaurants with Torbett as well as going to his flat.
But he said he had never seen anything amiss.
Most of the time he was in the flat, Torbett's mother - with whom he later stayed for a year - was there.
He had a good relationship with Torbett then and was still friends with him now.
He was "absolutely positive" that he had never seen Torbett interfere with one of the alleged boy victims, James McGrory.
John Service, prosecuting, asked: "At any time, were you aware of any difficulties at the Boys' Club, of allegations being made against Mr Torbett back in the 70s?"
McAleer, who was a prosecution witness, replied: "No, not at all."
He also denied that being Torbett's business partner and friend had influenced his evidence.
Mr Nicol, cross examining, said: "The implication is your silence has been bought."
McAleer replied: "You asked me to tell you the truth and I am telling you the truth."
He had never heard any rumours about allegations against Torbett until a newspaper story in 1996, which he described as "absolutely untrue and unfounded."
McAleer said he was not gay and didn't know if Torbett was homosexual.
Torbett, 51, of Burnbrae Road, Auchinloch, Lenzie, near Glasgow, denies three charges of shameless indecency involving three boys between October, 1967 and March, 1974. The alleged offences against James McGrory, 44, David Gordon, 38 and former Scotland star Alan Brazil, 39, are said to have happened at Torbett's old flat in Sighthill, Glasgow. Torbett also denies further offences against Mr McGrory at two cinemas, two restaurants and a bowling alley.
The trial, before Sheriff Margaret Gimblett, continues on Monday.
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|Publication:||The Mirror (London, England)|
|Date:||Nov 7, 1998|
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