Charity chief calls on Hearts sex shame star to be sacked

The chief executive of a leading children's charity has backed calls for Hearts to sack convicted sex offender Craig Thomson.

• Craig Thomson was convicted for his behaviour

The 20-year-old player was fined and placed on the sex offenders' register in relation to his inappropriate conduct towards two underage girls over the internet.

Last week, Hearts told Thomson he could stay following a club investigation into his conviction for "lewd, libidinous and indecent behaviour".

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• Sponsor ditches Hearts as sex shame defender remains on squad

In a statement he thanked the club for considering the "entire circumstances" of his case, but the decision has sparked anger among fans and charities, who have called on the club to dismiss him.

Anne Houston, the chief executive of Children 1st, said: "In all spheres of life, children have the right to be protected.

"We know how difficult it is for children who have been abused to come forward, for fear that they will not be believed or their disclosure will not be taken seriously.

"That is why it's incumbent on everyone - including football clubs and authorities - to take the strongest possible stance on child sexual abuse and do all that they can to minimise the risks for children.

"We would urge Hearts to look again at this situation. Allowing convicted sex offenders to continue working where they will have direct and indirect contact with children is wrong.

"There is no place in our society for role models who have been convicted of sexual offences, no matter what other talents they might have.

"We are sure that everyone in football, and particularly the SFA, who are the primary governing body in Scottish football, would agree."

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In an interview at the weekend, the mother of the 12-year-old victim said her daughter had met the footballer at a party and he had then added her as a friend on Facebook and chatted to her online for nine months from January 2010.

She said Thomson had told her not to tell her older sister about their conversations and had asked to speak to her via webcam.

The mother said: "Nearly every time he was in contact with her he asked her to take her top off. He moved on to sending pictures of himself naked. She was a 12-year-old girl. It's disgusting."

Hearts Supporters' Trust chairman Derek Watson, who had previously said Thomson was the victim of a "witch hunt", was today reported as saying that he was less sure of his support for the player after more details emerged of the player's actions.

He said: "It does make me change my mind a little bit. I am swithering at the moment.

"He is in a more difficult position than he was in last week."

One fan, Tam Kinnear, 35, is organising a protest march outside Tynecastle while the team play Antwerp on July 17. He said: "Hearts is a family club and we can't have sex offenders on the pitch."