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UK Athletics’ review of abuse cases – where are the details?

Dino Nocivelli, partner in the abuse team, calls for details of the UK Athletics’ review into past abuse cases to provide more details of its scope and how it will involve victims and survivors of abuse.

Posted on 22 July 2022

I have previously wrote about UK Athletics’ decision to review all of their abuse cases and to potentially provide new punishments, including life bans and although we know that they will not look at cases prior to 2004 due to safeguarding records no longer existing, we still do not know what cases they are reconsidering or when their review will finish.

We also do not know what level of input will be given to the victims and survivors affected but it is important that they are involved and they know the approximate timescales for the process.

Here are some of the individuals who have been convicted of sexual abuse within athletics, who could be included in the review depending on its scope:

  • Darrell Bunn – pleaded guilty in 2014 to 10 charges of indecent assault and three charges of child abduction. He worked at the Birchfield Harriers athletics club and was head of PE at a school in Birmingham, while he later coached numerous Olympic athletes. Bunn received a two-year prison sentence that was suspended for two years and was ordered to be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.  
  • Richard Hilary – convicted in 2017 of 14 charges of indecent assault on girls while he was a coach at Winchester Athletics Club and a secondary school teacher. He received a 15 years prison sentence and was ordered to be on the sex offenders’ register for life. 
  • Phil Banning – pleaded guilty in 2019 to 18 charges of indecent assault against four girls at Andover Athletics Club in Hampshire between 1976 and 1982. He later served as a Welsh national athletics coach for over a decade. He received a 7.5 years prison sentence and was ordered to be on the sex offenders’ register for life. 
  • Michael Duncan – pleaded guilty and also found guilty in 2021 of a number of child abuse offences through assisting with coaching and being a senior athlete at Havering Athletics Club. He received a two-year prison sentence and was ordered to be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. 

While we await the UK Athletics review to complete and publish their findings on the increased punishments, I would strongly encourage people to watch the documentary “Nowhere to Run”. This concerns the sexual abuse of athletes by their coach Paul North and how the athletes have tried to deal with the impact of the abuse. Paul North was eventually convicted in 2002 of multiple charges of sexual assault and one charge of rape. He received a 10 years prison sentence.

Although North cannot be part of the review because he was convicted prior to 2004 so there are no longer safeguarding records, this documentary is a strong reminder of the long term impact of abuse and the strength of survivors.

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