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Wall of silence was his licence to abuse.

The finger of suspicion was pointed at Torbett as long ago as the early 1970s.

There were whispers that he molested 13 and 14-year-old players in his care.

But the victims were too ashamed to admit they had been violated by someone they believed in, so they suffered in silence.

The Celtic board were aware of the rumours about Torbett, who was general manager of the boys' club.

But only one man took him on.

Jock Stein, who saw the youngsters as the lifeblood of the club, gave him his marching orders.

The big man brought in business-man Hugh Birt as boys' club chairman, and Torbett went back to building his store empire.

But after Stein's death, the pervert wheedled his way back in as fundraiser.

Again, complaints were made that boys were being taken away for weekends and sexually abused.

But, when Birt raised the matter 10 years ago, he was forced to resign.

He said at the time: "It appears the Celtic board want to look in the other direction in the hope the trouble will go away."

Birt had been told by anxious parents that their sons were being taken out socially when no games were involved.

There were also fears that Torbett was taking boys to non-existent weekend tournaments.

Birt raised the claims with then Celtic vice-chairman Kevin Kelly, who passed the issue to manager David Hay.

But later Kelly, along with Torbett and boys' club general manager Frank Cairney, asked Birt to resign.

When he refused, Celtic withdrew his ticket to the directors' box and he had no option but to get out.

Torbett later invited Kelly to become a director of the Trophy Centre chain.

The pervert is now a wealthy man, who has swapped an 11th- floor council flat for a plush pad in Glasgow's west end.

The Trophy Centre has a string of outlets across Glasgow selling medals, cups and fancy goods.

Torbett's business partner and shareholder is Gerry McAleer, a former boys' club player.

Despite the constant talk of sexual abuse, Torbett's links with Parkhead remained as strong as ever.

In 1993, cash-strapped Celtic called him in to help them make their club shops profitable.

At the time, a club spokesman said:

"Mr Torbett is a very successful businessman and a Celtic fan. He is a retail specialist, and we want him to review the operation of the shops."

By then, Torbett was projects organiser with the boys' club, running tours to America and Europe.

After one of those tournaments, in New Jersey in 1991, his old pal Frank Cairney quit as general manager.

His resignation followed an alleged incident involving a young Celt. US police investigated, but the case never came to court because the boy wouldn't make a complaint.

Torbett's Trophy Centre now sponsors the Scottish Amateur Youth leagues for boys between 12 and 18. Celtic have a team in every league.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1996 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 12, 1996
Words:483
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