This is the BBC. This podcast is supported by advertising outside the UK. BBC sounds, music, radio, podcasts, this podcast refers to child sexual abuse and contains interviews that some listeners may find upsetting, as well as some occasional strong language. Episode four He often vanished. This is me talking to be talking about this sort of level, how are you doing? Jennifer? So we give it a go. Yeah, OK. Hello. So you did used to work with them, you used to known from one of the hotels?
Yes, I actually worked for one of the resorts, actually one of the managers, if I'm not mistaken. And I like the front desk manager.
OK, well, listen, I've got so much that I'd like to talk to you about, so that's brilliant. It might be best for us to to talk about it when you meet up in the flesh. What do you think? I love your accent, by the way. Oh, thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. He had told me personally, because I had gone to the resort and he said, yeah, that he was planning this vacation, that he was going to Puerto Rico for a few days and he was planning on having fun and all this and that.
You know, we spoke a little bit about it.
And then the time came. My friend told me, hey, you know, John never came back.
He was supposed to come back yesterday or the day before or something. And I was like, Really? And she's like, yeah, they haven't been able to get a hold of him.
I don't know why I'm whispering, but, you know, she was like, you know, they haven't been able to get a hold of him. And, you know, we've been calling and calling and he doesn't answer his cell phone. You know, it's like he just disappeared.
And then then that's when she told me, hey, you know, you should Google his name. But she didn't really want to tell me what it was. I think she just wanted me to have the shocker when I saw it for myself.
But she's like, hey, Google this. She told me George instead of John.
And I'm like, Why? And she's like, just Google it. I'm not going to tell you, just Google it. And when I did that, it popped up. I was shocked. I mean, I was really. But I think I was also kind of like, yeah, you know, I knew it, I knew it. We just come out of this girl, we've turned right and we're go down on Park Avenue, so this was the route most of the kids at the school attend for.
This was your way home? This was my way home. This is Johnny Waters. We're going back to Newport Comprehensive School, where Johnny used to be a student and George Clooney ran the sports complex and the swimming club Trojans. And so this is where he drove down the. Stop it. The kids who are walking down the road. Laying down the window and ask them if they wanted a lift to or wherever they were going. So in 1994, George Keaveney, who was unidentified throughout legal proceedings, walked out of court, a free man, and the very next day, after that High Court decision, Gibney was interviewed for a prestigious new job, this time in the U.K. I'm sure he thought business was usual for him.
I'm sure that's exactly how he thought. He was still the Olympic swimming coach, and even if you remember, nobody knew anything except the swimmers and the people close to them. Not just the fact that Joe Public didn't know anything about it, but people in swimming who did know about it decided not to believe it. With the help of a reference from a former school principal of New Power Comprehensive, Gibney was interviewed for a job with the prestigious Warrender Swim Club in Edinburgh.
In the reference from Dr John W. Harris, Gibney was described as a gifted coach, ending with the line I can recommend. George is a man of many talents. He throws himself wholeheartedly into all that he undertakes in a statement. Harris later said he was not aware of any proven allegations against Keaveney at the time. So not only did the public not know anything about George Anthony, but the people who did know about George Kitney, those people in swimming.
Decided to take the side of the coach. One month after the court proceedings had been dropped, George Clooney had that new job in Scotland. Anyone outside swimming didn't really know. And people in swimming. Many of the people inside swimming decided to play George and. Not to believe the victims. Sorry, I turn this off. Yes. So that's it there. That's the. George Kennedy's office was the one in the middle. Straight ahead of us right there, yeah, George, given his office was in the middle window that we're looking at from right in front of the building, it was in that office where two sisters of one of the victims decided to go and challenge Gibney because their little sister had told them that he had raped her.
So they confronted Gibney in that room that we're looking at. And Gibney sat on the table and put that rosary beads from his pocket and apologized and told the two sisters that he wouldn't do it again. And then he started crying and he said he'd pray for them and he'd pray for their little sister. So two girls. Said, OK, but if you do this again, we're going to tell our father and their father will kill you. And that's the last.
They ever sell a kidney, but he didn't stop. Johnny was a student, a new park from 1973 to 1979, and the school memories and stories of George Gibbons stayed with him by the time 1994 rolled around, Johnny was a journalist with the Sunday Tribune, one of Ireland's biggest newspapers. What was in your mind at that point?
What was in my mind was that a guy escaped justice. I don't so many people and I've spoken to so many people who had known what he did and I couldn't understand how the courts had come to the decision they did. The victims didn't see any justice. I knew legally it was the end of the line. I wondered what, if anything, could be done about it.
It has got a sense of confidence. All right. Nice to see you.
Outside of the family therapy there, when you join a paper as an editor and you're a director and you're on the board, you're in in no illusion at all. You know you know what the accounts are saying. And the fact is the paper was on life support. There was a check that had to be written every month to keep this thing going to pay all our salaries. That's the former editor of the Sunday Tribune, Peter Merta. At this point, he was pretty much unaware of George Gibney.
I didn't know him at all. He meant he meant nothing to me until Johnny came and started talking about the story. And it's really about without being kind of too too pompous about that. But it is about justice, isn't it? It's about justice for people who have been wounded, damaged, rolled over by the system, have not had their day. Certainly the victims saw it as a miscarriage of justice, absolute miscarriage of justice. Johnnie quickly had the full support of his editor.
His next step was to approach Gary or to.
And that guy in a coffee shop in city center in Dublin and just to talk about it and see what he thought, he was absolutely cooperative from the beginning that wanted to help and wanted to do something.
And then when given his Supreme Court judgment. Let let him go free, then we go down to the how are we going to do this? Will you introduce me to some of the victims? Will you go to them first, tell them what I can to do, which is to write the story and put it in the Sunday Tribune? Gary would go to them and say, this guy killed you. Only one person wants to write a story about it.
He believes what happened to you and will you talk to him and Gary, come back one after the other, four or five, six times.
The survivors have been through immense heartbreak and trauma in telling their stories in great detail to police almost two years previously. Now they're being asked to go through it all again, despite having entirely lost faith in the system. I remember it took about a year and it was a slow process because they didn't know who I was. They didn't they wanted to trust me. So I had to I met them and tried to gain their trust. I suppose they were telling me something deeply personal.
We had to make sure that they were behind it and they were behind it because they felt so let down by the system. They wanted people to know and they were aware that Ghibli was coaching kids.
The survivors agreed to talk and have their stories published under pseudonyms. Johnny put together accounts from four different swimmers, but that wasn't enough. The advice of the Tribune's lawyer, Hugh Morgan, was that the story could never go to print unless the paper got sworn affidavits. This is a good time to explain the difficulties with Irish defamation law.
Irish defamation laws are weighted heavily in favor of protecting an individual's right to their good name and restricts what Irish media organizations can publish to a far greater degree than their U.S. counterparts.
And in comparison to libel cases in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, Ireland's defamation awards are huge, sometimes running into the Millions Award certainly great enough to close down an Irish newspaper. And back in 1994, the Sunday Tribune was a newspaper that was already struggling.
I told the victims that we are going to be sued by this man and you are going to have to stand up in court. That's where the end game is going to be. And can you do that? Are you prepared to do that? Are you prepared to go through your sworn statements and all of that detail, the personal details, the dramatic detail? And they all agreed that they would do that. So their bravery really drove it.
And for them to sign sworn statements to say that they would do that was even a step beyond what journalists normally ask. Yeah. Yeah, huge. Luckily, the bravery of the victims came through. A final step before the story could go to print was for the paper to approach one of Ireland's foremost senior counsel, Adrian Hartmann, a future Supreme Court judge, was asked for his assessment. At the time, Hardiman wrote, There is no doubt that the story is gravely defamatory, in fact, with one exception, an allegation of mass murder.
It is the most serious defamation I've ever had to consider. It is calculated to destroy the subject's reputation conclusively and his career beyond hope and redemption, and probably ruin his life generally. I was I was nervous, no doubt about it. I knew who he was and what he had done, and I knew he was going to get clean away if we didn't do that. I certainly remember the moment when, you know, the decision had to be taken.
I knew it would be a big story because he was the Olympic coach. On the 4th of December 1990 for the Sunday Tribune ran a front cover with the headline Top Swim Coach Gibney is child sex abuser. One eight fifty eight five six, double six yesterday, the Sunday Tribune revealed details of child sex abuse by the swimming coach, George Gibney. The paper carried a denial by George Gibney. He says, I am innocent of all the allegations that have been made against me.
I know that I will be guilty in the eyes of some, but I am innocent. The truth about the country's great Olympic swimming coach spread quickly around Ireland, Mr. Gibney has denied the allegations of sexual abuse which were made against him in yesterday's Sunday Tribune and repeated by most newspapers today. Sworn affidavits had been given detailing the alleged incidents. The BBC has made several attempts to contact Mr. Gibney for comment, but so far he hasn't made any public statements.
We've been attempting this morning to contact George Gibney, but to no avail. However, we have been talking to someone we are calling Collum, who is one of those making the allegations. I asked Collum, whose voice, by the way, we distorted electronically to tell me when he first came into contact with George Gibney. I was nine, nine and a half year old. And when we were finished the bench press, the weights were put down. The vote was switched off and then he would come over and lie down on top of me and things would start from the.
The distorted voice of Colin was actually chalky white. It was his first time speaking publicly about what had happened.
This has now been published in the Sunday Tribune and been taken up by other newspapers and become something of a media sensation.
The only reason that I decided to continue to press this whole case was just to make sure that the world would never be able to work with the government.
Go to the problem is not being believed for a child who has been abused, that that's just a terrible thing to happen to them. They were never given a chance to be listened to, nor were they believed until yesterday.
And today, you know, that George Me has denied strenuously all of this. Well, absolutely.
I didn't expect him to do anything different than George, given the allegations that we made that seem to have been a, you know, a wink and a nod attitude within the association itself. And no one ever pursued any of the rumours that were going around the swimming pool. There are detailed reports in the paper today of swimmers that had gone to them and told them what was going on and they ignored or they just refused to believe it.
So I don't think anybody could have looked back at the bottom and fallen out of it. Nobody could have looked back and said, you know, you were reckless, you were malicious, you were you know, you failed in your professional duty. We had a moral imperative as well. Yes. As we were comprehensively destroying a man's reputation. Absolutely. We knew we were doing that and we had to have good reason for doing that. And if you if you didn't have good reason for doing what we did to George Gibney, then you shouldn't do it.
Yeah, I mean, I would I would I would slightly quibble with that. I think his his his reputation was destroyed by his own actions.
And our moral imperative actually was to vindicate the rights of his victims. But as a consequence of that, you're absolutely right. I mean, this this man should not have been able to practise as a coach ever again. It's perhaps surprising that George Bush was given a fresh start in Edinburgh by the early Warrender club while he was awaiting the trial that never took place. Unfortunately for Gibney, the story also made it to Scotland. The BBC were alerted to the Sunday Tribune article by parents from Warrender Swimming Club.
They were looking for answers from the club's executive and White Gibney was hired in the first place.
And officials have warned there have also been reluctant to talk about the appointment, though in a statement today, the club say their position over the engagement of George Gibney as chief coach is unchanged in the knowledge that no proceedings were being taken against him. George Gibney remains chief coach of Waterbus Club. Grab a seat there and I'll. If you don't mind, I'd like to record your reactions to this, if that's OK, if you want to want to put the headphones on so you can see it or see and hear.
What under members plan to meet privately on Sunday night, they're angry that the club committee who backed Mr. Gibney in his post say they have the parents behind them.
Nobody can be certain, in fact, of their guilt. But isn't there a place? Actually, I think, oh, bloody hell, it was here.
In the absence of a doubt, the children that shouldn't be, you know, involved in at all. So what demands are you making of the club immediately in respect of the coach that Mr. Gilbert, in fact, be replaced? This is Brian Latymer, Brian's children were swimmers at Warrender at the time, and he became something of a spokesperson for the parents today.
One couple, after being in touch with Irish police, shared the information they'd been given with other parents from the club.
I think the biggest worry is the fact that the executive, in my opinion, are actually, in a way playing Russian roulette with their children's safety.
What under Brian's late wife, Alan was a former swimming coach herself and she organized meetings about kidney amongst the parents say they have.
I have forgotten the meeting took place at my house. I'd forgotten there was a camera there as well, and my wife was around as well. Dear God, I forgot all about that. I knew vaguely that I knew vaguely. In fact, there was a meeting somewhere, but forgot those was here. Dear goodness time I was on my old people's home myself. Actually, I think you look very similar to what you do that I think you've aged very well.
Oh God. What how would you judge your media performance? It was terrible. Awful. Dearie me. I do talk and short. I'm really I'm from the police. But there everyone speaks very fast because life's too short that they really you got to speak quick to get it all. You know, Jeremy. How was maybe there was a sense that people were starting to be uncomfortable with how Keaveney was coaching, how did that how did that come to pass?
As you remember, it was so much coaching. The fact that say, as I said earlier on, in fact, all these kids have been friends for years. In fact, they all joined the five or six year old. And when they were 11 or 12, they've been friends for five or six years. And the first thing getting infected when you're at the club was to break up some of these friendships and go and pick them out, pick out one or two girls back and take them away from the group.
And they no longer were friends. And that group, he saw them as differently. And those are the ones that he befriended. And that's really what the parents were initially up in arms about. It broken up all the friendships amongst the girls and the younger boys doing that. And he began to up one or two of the girls for special treatment, you away from their friends. And that caused resentment in the friends that had left and the people that weren't picked.
And that was really how it all began. That was that was how we started in. If it feels like when you're saying that to me, that he was almost in the steps of doing what he done before it was in the process. Oh, definitely. I mean, that's obviously his political modus operandi. But that's how that's how he performs and that's how he does it, you know. So it's not a it's not a criminal result. It's a good thing.
And so, you know, people make them feel special. And that's what he was doing. And that was one of the first things that the parents noticed that, you know, he'd broken up. The friendships had been going for years because of that and takes that one or two even there. That said, you know you know my favorites. And I said, you know, you don't need to be friends with these people because you're better than they are.
The kids feel good. And you know, the ones that are left that feel hurt and the parents coming out. And that was when I started. One of the parents behind Sunday's meeting was on the appointments committee, but voted against Mr. Gibney being taken on. It's emerged that Warrender offered George Gibney the chance of an interview before the case against him was eventually dropped in. The Irish courts and the club's committee were fully aware of court proceedings against him when he was appointed.
Indeed, the allegations were discussed at his interview.
I don't myself, in fact, see that wonderful club, after knowing the man for three months, can form opinions and such strong opinions on his past life, whatever it was, and complete disregard the the the advice we've had. In fact, even my Irish people and Irish families who say that all is not aboveboard and all is not kosher. And I find this strange, the fact that they are not prepared to listen to anybody else other than the man himself.
We knew nothing about this. The parents knew nothing about that at all. Actually, the committee, in fact, obviously, they are, in fact, knew all about a little about him. But the parents weren't told. We knew nothing about it except to say which part specifically did you know nothing about?
About given his past, it wasn't life on the island to find out from the police the fact that he had been prosecuted, although it had failed. We didn't know that there'd been a prosecution case in Ireland or nobody told a parent.
So I phoned the Garda again, told him I was a concerned parent and asked them what the situation was. And they explained as best they could what happened. Our executive, you know, as as easily as I did.
It came as a personal friend of France's nanny Sembler, that they knew him. They told us the inhuman Ireland and there was a well respected, wonderful church and that Francis and Hamilton-Smith, where the high profile friends Gibney needed to get the job and Scotland.
He came in with the best of recommendations. I mean, Francis, you can get better than that. If was it I mean, Francis, who ran one of the you know, and again, that's that's the scary part.
You know, if they were recommended him, for goodness sake, why couldn't they see everybody else on Hamilton or Hammie was one of the most successful coaches in British swimming in the 70s, 80s and 90s, as well as coaching alongside Francis at Warrender, he developed 10 Olympians and 30 international swimmers in his career.
They included the famous British Olympic medal winner, David Wilkey.
I mean, you know, if if a paedophile given, in fact, is taken to court in Ireland and then he's reintroduced in Scotland by one of the major voices in Scottish and British swimming, if that has been a good guy, people with responsibility, in fact, for children shouldn't be taking any chances whatsoever, in fact, that anybody's reputation, you know.
The support from the Smiths came long before Gibney arrived in Scotland in a letter to Trojan's Swimming Club that we tracked down from September 1993. Francis signed off with We Shall Be Thinking of George in the coming weeks, giving his lawyers were attempting to stop the trial from going ahead at the time. And their support continued even after the Tribune story, Hamilton described Gibney in the media as a man of extreme integrity, and Francis said that he was 101 percent had her support.
When contacted, Francis Smith told me she didn't want to talk, that it was all in the past and that she no longer has any contact with George Gibney.
Last night, as youngsters arrived for a training session, Mr. Gibney was apparently hiding in a nearby supermarket before being smuggled in. I called again at his house today, but so far he's refused to comment except to say there's a vendetta against him. Alan Mechai reporting, Scotland, Edinburgh. Over the course of just five days and three BBC Scotland TV reports, it seems the pressure of the parents finally took its toll. The decision to sack George Gibney was made by the executive committee at a meeting yesterday, and so then the public stood by its chief coach.
It was aware of allegations of sexual abuse of children made against him. The allegations which surfaced in Ireland have never been tested in the courts after the meeting. A statement from the club said following further information received, the committee decided to terminate the engagement of the chief coach, George Gibney, with immediate effect. This decision was taken in the best interests of the club. I must ask you, everything that I needed to ask am what I think is.
I'm not clear about is that. We saw in the video there was a statement saying that Kimberly had been removed by the club, but to me, from the people I spoke to in Edinburgh, he walked from the club. It just disappeared. Yeah. I mean, you know, removed. There was no sort of meeting, you know, sort of formal, just one meeting, in fact, saying you removed your take on, you know, you just vanished.
And with that, George Gibney had disappeared. Today at the Edinburgh address where George Company was known to be staying, the BBC was told that he's now moved away.
Nobody came to nobody came to do the kids in session, he just wasn't there, you know, we weren't told and fact is left, you know, it just didn't appear to be here. That was. And we fought in of the phone there and it was gone and said, you know. Up to about. Swimming's George Keaveney, the confident character that love to appear in TV studios whenever he could, was gone forever.
Many decisions have been made by me over the last four or five years. And I think that's what has brought Irish swimming through or joined, as I said, by George.
Give me George, George, give me our great Olympic coach.
In his place, he'd assume a new character, all references to swimming would be removed from his resume. He'd be the mass going volunteer who traveled with rosary beads and who made a new life for himself in America.
He become John Gibney today at the Edinburgh address where George Gibney was known to be staying. The BBC was told that he's now moved away from. If you've been affected by any of the issues in this series, please contact support organizations in your own country for a list of organizations in the U.K. that can provide support for survivors of sexual abuse. Go to BBC, Dakoda, U.K. forward slash action line. If you were a former swimmer with George Qabbani or have any information, however minor, that you feel could help the producers, please contact us confidentially at.
Where is George Gibney, a BBC Dakoda, U.K. that's where is George Gibney all one word at BBC, Dakoda UK and you can find us on Social at Second Captains. Where is George Gibney is a second captain's production for BBC Sense. The series is written and produced by me, Mark Horgan and Kiran Cassidy. It's co-produced with Maria Haugaard and editing is also by Caroline Cassidy. Research and fact checking is by Chilian Down our composers Michael Fleming and Sound Mixing is by Jerry McDonald.
Our theme tune is by Aaron Dessner. The executive producer for the BBC is Dylan Huskins, and the commissioning editor is Jason FIPS. You can hear episode five of Where Is George Clooney? It's called Land of Opportunity from next Thursday, 24th of September. You can subscribe on the free BBC sends up. I'm criminal psychologist Dr. Julia Shaw, and I'm a stand up comedian, Sophie Hagan, and this is a trailer for our new podcast, Bad People, stories about people that most of us would consider evil people that do the unspeakable.
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