Following the announcement that an independent inquiry is to be set up to investigate allegations of physical and emotional abuse within UK gymnastics (see David Hawkin’s blog of July 2020 on our website), further survivors of abuse have come forward.
Former gymnasts at the Spennymoor club say children as young as seven were bullied and put in fear of their coaches. Some were put under pressure to exercise despite having broken bones.
One gymnast, Roxanne Jennison, has said she was pressurised by the club to practise after an operation on her leg left it in plaster.
There are claims of mental abuse and “fat-shaming” which in some gymnasts led to them developing eating disorders.
British Gymnastics, the governing body, stated “it condemns any behaviour which is harmful to the wellbeing of our gymnasts” whilst the club denies any allegations of abuse and mistreatment of any of its gymnasts.
David Hawkins, a specialist abuse lawyer with Verisona Law’s award-winning Child Abuse Team said if anyone has experienced abuse within UK gymnastics, or any other sport, I encourage them to come forward to the Inquiry or to the Police where your voice will be heard. I have extensive experience in holding sporting institutions, including Premier League football clubs, to account for abuse that has happened to aspiring athletes so if you want to discuss your legal rights in complete confidence, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me.”
Below is a selection of organisations/instutions/bodies we are frequently instructed to pursue.
Private schools, boarding schools, local authority schools, closed schools, hospital schools.
The Scouts Association, St Johns Ambulance, MIND, the Children’s Society, Barnados.
- Football trainers, judo teachers, dance instructors, swimming instructors, holiday activity centres, nurseries, youth clubs.
Local Authorities/Ministry of Defence
- County Councils, Borough Councils, City Councils, ILEA, cadets, navy/ army (forces).
National Health Service Trusts/Commissioning Boards/GPs
- Hospitals, Disability care centres, children’s care providers.
- Convicted perpetrators, acquitted perpetrators.
- Respite care, full time children’s home, part-time children’s homes.
- Roman Catholic Church, United Synagogue, Sisters of Nazareth, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Brothers Order.
- Permanent carers, temporary carers
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