I have recently acted on behalf of a man who was sexually assaulted by football coach Bob Higgins while at football trials for Southampton Football Club.

Bob Higgins was a prolific child abuser who sexually assaulted children between about 1971 and 1996. In 2019, he was convicted of 46 counts of indecent assault against 24 boys and he was sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Higgins was never charged, let alone convicted of abusing my client who met Higgins, a football coach, while attending trials to become an apprentice at a camp for Southampton Football Club in Gateshead, Newcastle in the 1980s when he was about 14 years old. During the trials, Higgins sexually assaulted my client on two occasions.

My client has struggled and continues to struggle to deal with the impact of the abuse on his life. After the recent public exposure of childhood sexual abuse in football, he finally felt able to disclose his experience to the police and his wife.

The police informed him that no further action could be taken due to Higgins’ extensive prison sentence and as a result he decided to instruct me to bring a civil case against Southampton Football Club.

This was a difficult case as my client’s case was technically time barred and there was no evidence to prove the alleged sexual abuse had taken place or that it was in fact Higgins who had inflicted said abuse.

Despite the inherent risks, I decided that the sheer number of boys who had suffered sexual abuse at the hands of Higgins who I had represented previously and the similar factual basis of the abuse meant that we had a case that deserved further attention and especially where this was the client’s only possible route to a sense of closure and justice.

After detailed investigation, I was able to negotiate a settlement with the defendant without the need to start court proceedings and my client also received a personal apology from the club which is something that means a lot to him as other survivors have.