news

Britain's Got Talent winners Spelbound coach feels 'abandoned' by gymnastics chiefs after child cruelty allegations

Neil Griffiths said he is still waiting to hear from British Gymnastics about when his suspension will be lifted

Neil Griffiths

The coach of Britain's Got Talent winners Spelbound has said he feels "abandoned" by gymnastics chiefs, after child cruelty charges against him were dropped.

Neil Griffiths is desperate to return to "the job he loves" but says he is still waiting for his suspension to be lifted by British Gymnastics.

The 42-year-old, of Ashford, trained the 2010 BGT winners Spelbound at Heathrow Gymnastics Club in Hounslow before he was suspended.

He was head coach at the club in Green Lane, which is one of the most successful in the UK and includes World and European acrobatic gymnastics champions in its senior squad.

Mr Griffiths told getwestlondon : "I don't think anyone can imagine what it's like to go from being a coach, doing a job you love and helping young gymnasts achieve their dreams, to suddenly being accused of crimes you never committed and losing your career and your livelihood.

"I am so relieved this ordeal is over, but I can't understand why it took so long for the case against me to be dropped.

"This has dragged on for well over a year and during that time I have not been able to coach or even to go to the gym.

"Now, I just want the opportunity to get back to coaching. I am still suspended by British Gymnastics. I have been affiliated to them since 1986, but I feel I've been abandoned.

Spelbound perform in Britain's Got Talent in 2010

"I want my suspension to be lifted as soon as possible so my life can return to normality. I want to get back to the job I love and give more talented gymnasts the chance to become British, European and World champions."

getwestlondon has contacted British Gymnastics to ask whether it planned to lift the suspension, and if so when, but it declined to comment.

In July last year Mr Griffiths, who was backed in a Facebook campaign by hundreds of his former gymnasts and their families, was first questioned following complaints from the parents of three children.

He was charged in May with five counts of child cruelty against children as young as nine, alleged to have taken place between 2005 and 2014.

He had been due to stand trial next February but the Crown Prosecution Service decided to discontinue the case earlier this month after fresh medical evidence emerged.

Mr Griffiths said he had "been through hell" for the last 18 months and was devastated the good name he had built up over 15 years in the sport had been tarnished.

Mr Griffith's solicitor John Hartley, of Mackrell Turner Garrett, said: "We hope that British Gymnastics will respect this decision and allow Neil to put the last 18 months behind him and return to the sport to which he has devoted his life."

More than 15 million viewers saw Spelbound win BGT in 2010.

The acrobatic gymnastics group went on to perform at the London Olympics closing ceremony.

View full mobile page