Detective who confronted his abuser features in FA Inquiry Report
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A detective from Staffordshire Police has contributed to a major report into child sexual abuse in football published today (March 17).
Detective Constable Gary Cliffe is one of the contributors to the Football Association inquiry into child sex abuse in football.
The independent review, led by Clive Sheldon QC and his team, examined what the Football Association and several clubs knew and did about child sex abuse in the sport from 1970 to 2005.
Gary has also taken part in a BBC documentary, ‘Football’s Darkest Secrets’, to be aired from Monday (March 22).
A detective in Hanley, Gary was signed to Manchester City as a youngster and dreamt of playing to a packed Maine Road and Wembley.
Gary’s dreams were shattered following abuse by former coach Barry Bennell, who was sentenced to 31 years for 50 counts of child sex abuse, convicted of abusing 12 boys aged eight to 15 between 1979 and 1991.
Last autumn Bennell was convicted of a further nine offences, taking his sentence to 34 years. Gary faced his abuser during sentencing at Liverpool Crown Court in 2018.
“I was terrified, but knew I had to do it. It was about taking his power away,” he said.
Gary has gone on to campaign and encourage others to speak out through his work with the Offside Trust, a charity committed to supporting survivors of abuse and working to make sport safer for children. He says support from the Force and colleagues at Staffordshire Police has been tremendous. Staffordshire Police Deputy Chief Constable, Emma Barnett, said:
“Gary has channelled so much of this determination and desire to help others into his work and I hope his actions give confidence to others who may have doubts to come forward and seek justice. I’m also glad his colleagues in CID and across the force have been able to offer him the support and also the recognition he deserves for sharing his experiences and the important work he does to support victims.”
Before he made the decision to waive his anonymity – a legal right for all victims in sexual offences cases – Gary had told only those friends and family closest to him about the abuse he had endured as a talented young footballer at Manchester City.
Gary admits he was terrified facing Bennell. “He was in court when I read my victim statement. He had to listen and I felt empowered. It was great to see him sent down by the judge for what he’d done.”
Following the work of Gary and other former footballers he has described ‘an avalanche’ of lads coming forward about abuse involving Bennell and others nationally.
“I’m supporting this as much as I can. I know not everyone is able to speak out, but it’s about empowering those lads and getting them to come forward.”