Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

“When I won, I cried one last time… with relief that it was all over”: Denise Clair speaks exclusively to Sunday Post about football rape case

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

THE phone call from Denise Clair’s solicitor came as she was serving breakfast to her daughter.

Cameron Fyfe’s message was succinct: “You’ve won.”

He did not expect a reply and Denise did not offer one. Instead, she turned to her 10-year-old daughter and whispered: “It’s over baby, it’s over!”

With an innocence found only in the young, her daughter – who we shall not name – asked: “Does that mean you’ll stop crying now, mummy?”

But Denise cried one last time. They were tears of relief in the knowledge that her life could now begin again with the child she credits with saving her life.

Mr Fyfe’s call brought the news that Lord Armstrong had ruled that two professional footballers – one a Scotland star – who basked in adulation as sporting heroes had sexually preyed on the young mother.

It was the news she had been waiting for. At long last, someone, apart from the people who loved her, believed the story she had been telling for six years since her fateful meeting with the players whom Lord Armstrong last week branded as liars and rapists.

And speaking yesterday for the first time since the Law Lord condemned former Dundee United team-mates David Goodwillie and David Robertson, she said: “You cannot imagine my sense of relief.

(Andrew Cawley) Denise Clair, meeting Neil Findlay MSP, telling him of her ordeal with her case against former Dundee United footballers, David Goodwillie and David Robertson.
Denise Clair, meeting Neil Findlay MSP, telling him of her ordeal with her case against former Dundee United footballers, David Goodwillie and David Robertson. (Andrew Cawley)


“I just clung to my daughter and cried.

“During the last six years, there have been dark, dark times when only her cuddles and pure, simple love have pulled me back from the brink of ending it all. At times, it was that bad. On several occasions, I wrote letters saying goodbye to my loved ones. Mercifully, I saw sense and tore them up.

“It was only the thought of leaving my little girl behind and causing grief to my family – who were already suffering badly – that kept me from ending it all.

“The strain of recent years, and the accusations of my attackers that I was promiscuous, has been enormous.

“The horrible truth is that many people were willing to believe them, given their place in the community and their status as heroes and role models. Those players believed themselves to be untouchable.”

READ MORE: ‘They offered me £115,000 to drop the case’: Denise Clair reveals footballers tried to buy her silence

During the hearing in October last year, before Lord Armstrong at the Court of Session, Goodwillie’s “evidence” generated lurid headlines of consensual three-in-a-bed sex romps at a New Year “party”.

Denise added: “Nothing was further from the truth. His lies were a vile attempt to hide guilt. There was no party and I would never have consented to have sex with one of them, never mind both.

“There was nothing consensual about any of it. It was a carefully calculated plan by them to take advantage of me.”

On the night of January 1, 2011, Denise had a rare night out at a pub near her home in West Lothian, where she bumped into Robertson, who attended the same school.

With him was a young man he introduced as “David”. Denise did not realise he was a well-known footballer about to be the subject of a £2.8 million transfer from Dundee United to Blackburn Rovers.

Denise, who had had three drinks, remembers nothing after accepting a fourth drink which Robertson “insisted” on buying her. Within minutes, she was, in her own words, “inexplicably” drunk.

When she was seen a short time later by witnesses in a nearby nightclub she was described as “comatose”.

Stewards at the club were so concerned they were going to call an ambulance, but the players assured them they would ensure she got home safely.

They instead got a key to an empty flat in Armadale, West Lothian, where they took Denise and raped her, leaving her in the house with what Lord Armstrong described as a “near-fatal amount of alcohol” in her system.

She added: “It is those lost hours, from taking that fourth drink, which still torment me. There were moments when you begin to doubt yourself.

“When the stories of the so-called ‘party’ emerged, I thought: ‘Did I do that? Did I behave so incredibly out of character?’

“I know now it was all lies. I’ve never been much of a drinker or taken drugs and I think that made me an easy target.

“I was lucky if I went out more than a couple of nights in a year.

“My daughter and my family were the centre of my universe.”

But the legacy of that rare night out continues to torment her.

She added: “I still don’t fully know what happened in that flat in Armadale. I forced myself to sit through the evidence of Goodwillie and Robertson before Lord Armstrong.

“It made me physically sick but I steeled myself.

“For the terrible thing is that since I awoke in that house – naked, cold, disorientated and in pain – my every moment, waking and asleep, has been haunted by it. It fills my days and my nightmares.

“Those lost hours and what happened during them torment me. I cannot explain how I went from finishing my third drink to having no memory of anything that came after it.”

However, Lord Armstrong’s judgment goes a long way to drawing a definitive line under her torment.

She said: “I feel vindicated, more able to go forward. It has been a trial since I waived my right to anonymity and publicly accuse the two men who abused me.

“I was, however, ill-prepared for the backlash. A storm broke around me, a storm which worsened when the Crown decided to drop a rape charge against Goodwillie.”

The respectable young mother, whose late father, John, was a social worker and well-known community activist, added: “My determination to tell the truth and to let the world see my face cost me my job, my sanity and almost my life.

“I became a target for hundreds of internet trolls who threatened to rape and kill me.

“One sick troll posted a message saying he knew where I lived and threatened to come and rape me, encouraging others to join in.

“A part of me dismissed it as internet bile, which is so common nowadays, but how could I be sure?

“Was he serious? Did he really know where I was? Was he out there, waiting?

“I was so alarmed I became a virtual recluse, afraid to leave my home.”

Denise became so concerned for her safety and that of her daughter that she moved in with her mother.

She added: “I was called vile names, described in the most horrible terms. I suffered a dreadful sense of helplessness. There were times when I thought no-one in the world believes what I am saying.

“However, my daughter and family were rocks that saved me.

“When the footballers raped me, my dad was battling the cancer that would claim his life just a few months later, at the age of 57.

“My poor dad was fighting for his life and apologising to me that he could not be more of a support to me.

“He lay on his death bed, crying because he knew the cancer would take him before I got justice.”

John’s love and support for his daughter was an inspiration, as were her mum, also Denise, 57, and her five brothers and sister, who were “pillars of strength”.

She added: “I don’t know what I would have done without them. The strain on them has been enormous but they were always there.

“In the days when I was still scared from the world, during the bouts of depression, they were in my corner.”

It is their love and support which sustained Denise to her victory at the Court of Session where Lord Armstrong awarded her damages of £100,000.

She said: “It was never about money, most of which will go toward legal costs.

“I don’t care. It was only ever about the truth. And anyway, no amount of money could buy back the part of my life I lost.”

The young woman is heartened, though, that her brave six-year battle and Lord Armstrong’s judgment will mean that rape will now be perceived as something more than a woman being dragged into the bushes by a monster.

She said: “That is very comforting. Hopefully, it will be a hard lesson for men who believe they can do as they wish, no matter what state a woman is in. Hopefully, the world is a little safer now for all of us.”

Her landmark victory is a new beginning for Denise who hopes now to forge a new career as a personal trainer and life coach.

She added: “I got the help I needed from Rape Crisis Scotland, Cameron Fyfe, Neil Findlay MSP and life coach James McCourt. I now want to give something back and, when I am strong enough, I will.

“As for Goodwillie and Robertson, I have never allowed them to get the better of me and I never will.

“I won’t waste a day of my life hating them. I will not expend precious energy on negativity.

“I do not, however, have any sympathy for them. They have been revealed for what they are – vile, predatory and without compassion.

“The difference now is that the world knows it and the weight I carried for so long has been lifted from me and placed on their shoulders – a burden of shame they will carry for the rest of their lives.

“I can start again. Where can they go to escape what they are?”

Additional reporting by Alistair Grant.