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Exclusive: “They offered me £115,000 to drop the case” – Denise Clair speaks out about football rape case

Denise Clair (Andrew Cawley /DC Thomson)
Denise Clair (Andrew Cawley /DC Thomson)

TWO rapist footballers tried to buy their victim’s silence with three separate offers of money, The Sunday Post can reveal.

Striker David Goodwillie and his former Dundee United team-mate David Robertson promised Denise Clair up to £115,000 if she dropped her landmark civil court case against them.

And when she refused to accept their money, Goodwillie’s legal team made a failed attempt to have her legal aid cut so she could not go ahead with her case.

But Denise rejected the offers of an out-of-court settlement – the final one coming just weeks before the historic case which this week saw them publicly named by a Law Lord as rapists.

Speaking exclusively to The Sunday Post, mother-of-one Denise, 30, said: “They tried to buy me off – not the action of men who still claim they did nothing wrong.

“And then, when they couldn’t, their lawyers tried to stop my legal aid to stop the case going ahead.

“Mercifully, they failed. The three offers made to settle would all have involved me keeping quiet – it was their way of trying to gag me.”

READ MORE: ‘When I won, I cried one last time… with relief that it was all over’: Denise Clair speaks exclusively to the Sunday Post 

Because the Crown Office in Scotland refused to prosecute the pair, Denise sued them in the Court of Session, claiming that, on January 2, 2011, they took her to an empty house in West Lothian and raped her.

The civil action heard that the men took advantage of vulnerable Denise after they told a pub bouncer they were taking her home to her mother, resulting in Lord Armstrong’s damning verdict on Tuesday.

Goodwillie, 27, and Robertson, 30, have always protested their innocence and claimed before Lord Armstrong that Denise, a former Scottish Prison Service careers adviser, had been a willing sexual partner.

David Goodwillie (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)
David Goodwillie (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

But in an unprecedented judgement, the Law Lord condemned the footballers as liars and rapists and awarded Denise £100,000 in damages in a case which has made headlines around the world.

Last night, speaking for the first time since she became the only woman in Scotland to successfully sue rapists, Denise said: “It was never about money. Truth doesn’t have a price. It was about exposing them for who they are.”

The three offers to settle the case have been secret until now for legal reasons – as has the attempt to remove her legal aid which would have derailed her case.

Denise said: “Now it’s over, people should know the full truth about what was going on behind the scenes – and people can make up their own minds.

“Do innocent men who say they’ve done nothing wrong offer £115,000 to settle a case in private? I don’t think so.”

Denise, from West Lothian, got the first offer of settlement in June 2015. It was made in a phone call in which the legal advisers of both players offered her £40,000 plus expenses not to take the case to court. Adamant justice should be done in public, Denise rejected it.

Then, during a meeting of ­advocates in Edinburgh in July 2016, Goodwillie’s legal team offered her £50,000 including her legal expenses if she dropped the case and stayed quiet. Again, she refused.

Then, less than a month before the civil case opened on October 18, there was a third and more frantic attempt to pay her off.

Denise said: “There was a ­pre-trial meeting of the advocates in Edinburgh on September 21. An increased offer on behalf of both men of £115,000, including expenses, was made. Again, I refused.

“Lord Armstrong awarded me £100,000 – less than the players wanted to buy me off with – and most of it will be swallowed up by legal costs. I don’t mind though. All that matters is that I am vindicated.

“I wanted the truth to emerge and no amount of money would have bought my silence or made up for the suffering I, and my family, endured.”

She added: “At one stage, during the pre-trial meetings, my QC suggested to the other side that a settlement £120,000 would have been more ‘appropriate’.

“But I would never have accepted anything out of court. I was never for sale.”

Denise’s only regret remains that former Scotland star Goodwillie, who now plays for Plymouth Argyle in England, and Robertson, who plays for Scottish side Cowdenbeath, did not face criminal charges.

David Robertson (SNS)
David Robertson (SNS)

She said: “I have been let down by the justice system. They should be behind bars. The police pursued the case but the Crown Office decided not to proceed.”

Goodwillie – who is said to be considering an appeal – and Robertson both deny raping Denise and insist she consented to sex.

Neither player could be reached by The Sunday Post to comment.

However, in a statement issued last week, Goodwillie said: “As a 21-year-old I acted immaturely, naively and probably not as respectfully or with the same consideration toward someone I was with as I could have and, if that was the case, I apologise.”

Denise, however, has her own view of Goodwillie. She said: “He is a pathetic creature who failed to buy me off and can still not own up to what he did.”

Her lawyer Cameron Fyfe said: “Denise has been extremely brave. She has helped make the world safer for all women.”