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How I tried in vain to get the parents and their sons to tell the police.

HUGH Birt's 25-year crusade has been to unmask perverts like Jim Torbett.

Today, 12 years after he quit as chairman of Celtic Boys' Club over the sex abuse cover- up, Hugh is still angry.

He is convinced that there are dozens of other Torbett victims suffering in silence. At his home in Bishopbriggs, near Glasgow, Hugh, 65, spoke of Torbett's "frightening" power over the youngsters.

He said: "He could make dreams come true - or destroy them.

"You have no idea what these lads would have done to pull on a Celtic jersey.

"But the saddest part of it all is that the parents who phoned me complaining their boys had been abused, would not go with me to the police because they knew their lads would never play for Celtic."

Hugh was made chairman of Celtic Boys' Club after Celtic FC manager Jock Stein kicked out Torbett amid complaints of abuse.

He said: "Jock said to me to keep its name clean."

After Stein quit as manager, Torbett wormed his way back into the club and some of the boys used to sleep in his flat in Sighthill, Glasgow, on a Friday night.

Hugh recalled: "He used to turn the boys out really well. They were immaculate when they left his house on a Saturday morning with their Celtic blazers on. It was as though they were his boys."

As more parents complained to Hugh about sex abuse, he informed Celtic vice- chairman Kevin Kelly, on advice from Jock Stein.

He said Kelly, who had just been given a plum job at Torbett's Trophy Centre, promised to investigate and the claims were reported to the Boys' Club committee.

But minutes from that meeting have vanished.

Hugh claims he finally quit after a row with Kelly over the abuse claims.

He added: "I did what I could but I was up against a brick wall because the boys and parents would not come out and tell what happened.

"Many times, I used to take boys aside who I suspected were being abused and ask them if there were any problems.

"You could tell by the way they blushed or changed the subject that there was something going on, but there was always denials. Sex abuse was a taboo subject."

"I believe a lot of boys never got the chance to make the grade because of Torbett. It should never have been allowed to happen."
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 13, 1998
Words:403
Previous Article:Shame spanned three decades.
Next Article:Dark secret that took 30 years to expose; NO MORE COVER-UPS: HOW THE RECORD BROUGHT AN END TO THE CANCER THAT EXISTED IN CELTIC BOYS' CLUB.


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