Chelsea paid me £50,000 hush money over abuse, says Gary Johnson

The 57-year-old said he signed a "gagging order" as part of the settlement

BY Newstalk 14:30 Friday 2 December 2016, 14:30 2 Dec 2016

Image: IRN

A former player claims Chelsea football club paid him £50,000 not to go public with allegations that he was sexually abused by its former chief scout.

Gary Johnson, 57, said he signed a "gagging order" as part of the settlement.

According to reports earlier this week, Chelsea made a payment to an individual in the last three years after allegations regarding former chief scout Eddie Heath.

The Daily Mirror reported the club had now waived the confidentiality clause in Mr Johnson's 2015 settlement.

Speaking to the newspaper, he said he had been abused by Heath hundreds of times in three years.

"I think that they were paying me to keep a lid on this," Mr Johnson said. "Millions of fans around the world watch Chelsea. They are one of the biggest and richest clubs in the world.

"All their fans deserve to know the truth about what went on. I know they asked me to sign a gagging order, and how many others are there out there?

"They may have paid others for their silence. I hope and pray no clubs are allowed to cover this up - no one should escape justice. We need total transparency now for the good of the game."

On Tuesday, Chelsea said it had asked a law firm to carry out an investigation into a former employee, but refused to comment on the details.

It said: "Chelsea Football Club has retained an external law firm to carry out an investigation concerning an individual employed by the club in the 1970s, who is now deceased.

"The club has also contacted the FA to ensure that all possible assistance is provided as part of their wider investigation. This will include providing the FA with any relevant information arising out of the club's investigation."

Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said on Thursday that any club found guilty of "hushing up" sexual abuse to protect their image would be punished.

Mr Johnson was a member of Chelsea's first team from 1978 to 1981, but joined the club as an 11-year-old in 1970.

He said he had been groomed from the age of 13 by Heath.

"I felt shame, I felt my childhood had been taken away," he told the Mirror. "I spent my late teens in turmoil, absolute turmoil."

Heath, who was the club's chief scout from 1968 to 1979, died before the allegations were made.

A dedicated NSPCC helpline for football received 860 calls in its first week, it was revealed on Thursday.

Meanwhile, 10 suspects have been identified as the scandal continues to grow, and Greater Manchester Police said it was investigating reports from 35 people.

West Midlands Police said on Friday that it is "investigating four historical allegations of child sexual abuse in football".

The National Police Chiefs' Council said around 350 people across the country had reported abuse.

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If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, you can contact 'One in Four', a charity providing support and resources for people who have experienced sexual abuse and violence in Ireland.

  • Call on 01 6624070, Monday – Friday 9.30 to 5.30pm 
  • Email using [email protected]
  • Send a letter to 2 Holles St, Dublin 2, D02 FP40
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