Scotland

Bid to extradite priest from Canada over Fort Augustus abuse claims

Fr. MacKenzie
Image caption Fr Robert MacKenzie moved to Canada after teaching at the Fort Augustus Abbey School in Inverness-shire

Moves are under way to extradite a retired priest from Canada to Scotland in connection with child abuse claims.

The Crown Office has been granted a petition warrant for the arrest of Father Robert MacKenzie, who lives in Cupar, Saskatchewan.

Fr MacKenzie, 84, taught at the former Fort Augustus Abbey School before moving to Canada in 1988.

Papers are now being prepared in the Crown Office to submit an extradition request to the Canadian authorities.

A Crown Office statement said: "The procurator fiscal received a report concerning a now 84-year-old male in connection with alleged historical offences.

"No court dates have been scheduled at this time."

Court process

The petition warrant is the first stage in the process in which prosecutors are now preparing an extradition request.

This can take several weeks, and once received by the Canadian authorities the court process there could last more than a year.

Image caption Fort Augustus Abbey school closed down in the 1990s

The move at the Crown Office came after the launch of a police inquiry in 2013, following a BBC Scotland investigation of alleged systematic physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus.

A number of former pupils made detailed allegations to the BBC.

Father MacKenzie was the priest at St Patrick's, Cupar, in the Canadian diocese of Regina, Saskatchewan.

On remand

Although he retired in 2014, he still lives in the town.

Extradition proceedings are under way in the case of another former Fort Augustus priest, Fr Denis Alexander, who lives in Australia.

He is currently on remand while the extradition process continues, although his lawyers are attempting to have him freed because of what they say is his failing health.

Another former priest, Fr Benedict Seed is due to stand trial at Inverness Sheriff Court in May, charged with eight counts of physical abuse at Fort Augustus.

The Crown Office has still to decide what action to take in a furtherr six cases.

The Fort Augustus School, which was run by the Benedictine Order of monks, closed in 1993.

Allegations of sexual abuse there will be examined by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales (IICSA).