Charlie Webster: BBC documentary Nowhere to Run reflects on abuse of Sky Sports star by Sheffield coach

Sheffield-born sports journalist Charlie Webster has opened up about the horrific sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of her running coach, Paul North, in a harrowing new BBC documentary.

Tuesday, 21st September 2021, 11:56 am

Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach was shown on BBC One last night (Monday, September 20) and saw Charlie recalling the traumatic details of the childhood abuse which she suffered while living in Sheffield.

Back in 2014, Charlie, who has worked as a presenter on Sky Sports and Channel 4, revealed that she had been abused as a teenager during her time at an all-girls running club in the city.

She was 15 when she suffered at the hands of her coach, Paul North.

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Sheffield-born sports broadcaster and journalist Charlie Webster has appeared in a BBC One documentary titled Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach, where she opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered in the city as a teenager at the hands of running coach Paul North. Photo: Lambent Productions - Photographer: Sam Finney.

He was jailed for 10 years in 2002 after a victim spoke up about about the abuse.

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In the documentary, Charlie met other people from the Sheffield running club who she had not seen in many years, who also spoke about their horrendous experiences.

Here is everything you need to know about what happened.

Sheffield-born sports broadcaster and journalist Charlie Webster has appeared in a BBC One documentary titled Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach, where she opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered in the city as a teenager at the hands of running coach Paul North. Photo: Lambent Productions - Photographer: Sam Finney.

Who is Charlie Webster?

38-year-old Charlie Webster was born in Sheffield on November 9, 1982 and attended Tapton School. She has always taken part in athletics and joined a running club during her school years.

Charlie went on to study language and linguistics at Newcastle University, before she began working as a fitness instructor and personal trainer.

She then went on to become a sports journalist and broadcaster, beginning her career at Real Madrid International TV.

Charlie Webster met other victims of sexual abuse when she appeared in a BBC One documentary titled Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach, where she opened up about the abuse she suffered in the city as a teenager at the hands of running coach Paul North. Photo: Lambent Productions - Photographer: Sam Finney.

In 2006, Charlie became the first live female football presenter in Asia for Star Sports and ESPN, and has since gone on to present for other major channels, including Sky Sports, Channel 4, BBC and ITV.

She still has a love of sport and takes part in a number of fitness challenges to raise money for charity, one of those being the London Marathon.

What happened to her?

Charlie was sexually assaulted by her running coach, Paul North, during her time at an all-girls running club in Sheffield.

Sheffield-born sports broadcaster and journalist Charlie Webster has appeared in a BBC One documentary titled Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach, where she opened up about the sexual abuse she suffered in the city as a teenager at the hands of running coach Paul North. Photo: Lambent Productions - Photographer: Sam Finney.

She was 15-years-old at the time, but first publicly revealed what had happened to her in 2014.

North also abused a number of other members of the athletics club.

As part of the BBC documentary, Nowhere to Run: Abused by Our Coach, Charlie recalled the first time she was assaulted by North.

She revealed that the first time it happened was under the pretence that he was helping her with bladder control, an issue he knew she suffered with.

It came as she lived with a violent and abusive stepfather and said she would often wet herself in her bedroom out of fear.

North, who was aware of Charlie’s bladder problems, then lured her to a private session where the abuse took place.

Charlie says in the documentary that she was “frozen” with fear as she was assaulted, and says it was difficult to realise at first that it was abuse as it was “not done in a violent way”.

What happened to Paul North?

Paul North was convicted of multiple counts of sexual assault and one count of rape in 2002 and jailed for 10 years.

He was arrested after a victim spoke up about the abuse they had suffered at his hands.

North was also placed on the sex offenders register.

Charlie Webster was 19 years old at the time he was convicted.

What else happened in Nowhere to Run?

During the BBC One documentary, Charlie revealed how she had not been back to Sheffield for many years and had tried to remove herself from any memories of the abuse, meaning she had not spoken to any of the people from the running club since they were teenagers.

As part of the programme she visited a number of people from the club who all recounted their experiences together.

In emotional scenes, Charlie opens up about the devastating abuse she was subject to.

Charlie, who is well-known for campaigning to raise awareness of abuse within sport, said she wanted to take part in the documentary to make other people feel less alone.

She added: “I want our ordeal to count for something. We need change.”