Scotland

Catholic Church 'sorry' but yet to contact priest sex abuse victims

Image copyright Iain McLellan/Spindrift Photo Agency
Image caption Moore was jailed for nine years

The Catholic Church in Scotland has apologised to two victims of a priest jailed for sexual abuse but is yet to contact them.

Father Paul Moore committed the crimes in Ayrshire between 1977 and 1996.

Two of his victims, Paul Smyth and Andi Lavery, went public with their stories after waiving their right to anonymity.

The church has now apologised to both men, and all abuse victims, after Moore was sentenced to nine years in prison, but has not been in touch with them.

Father Tom Boyle told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme the police investigation process meant church officials had not previously known the identity of anyone involved in the Moore case.

Priest sex abuse victim Paul Smyth
Image caption Victim Paul Smyth says church claims that no-one knew his identity are "blatant lies"

His comments come despite victim Paul Smyth making allegations in a number of BBC interviews stretching back to 2013.

Mr Smyth has described claims that the church did not know he was a victim as "a blatant lie".

Fr Boyle, the former assistant general secretary of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, said: "I can't say for certain that we knew who they (Paul Smith and Andi Lavery) were.

"As far as I am aware there has been no contact, no.

"I would like to think that the Diocese of Galloway will now be I touch to see what help we can provide. Whatever help they seek from us, we will try to do something for them.

"Bishop Nolan (the bishop of Galloway) apologised as soon as the trial was over to the victims. I am sure that Bishop Nolan will be in touch with them now."

Reach out

Moore, 82, was jailed on Wednesday after being found guilty of abusing one boy at a school, another at a leisure centre and a third on the beach at Irvine in the 1970s.

He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a student priest in 1995.

Victim Andi Lavery, who was just five years old when he was abused, told BBC Scotland the ordeal had "poisoned my life".

Fr Boyle, who was responsible for the bishops' response to the McLellan Report on safeguarding in the Catholic Church in Scotland, admitted that dealing with survivors had been a problem in the past.

He apologised to the victims and insisted that safeguarding training and awareness would now be "state-of-the-art".

He said: "I reiterate what Bishop (Nolan) said at the end of the trial, and to Paul Smyth and Andi Lavery: I am sorry these things occurred.

"We will reach out to them, we will ensure that we can provide whatever help is appropriate for them in as far as we can. We are in the process of beginning that.

"For more than 10 years now, the policy of the bishops in Scotland has been that as soon as any allegation is made, it is reported immediately to the authorities.

"There is no sweeping under the carpet. There is no moving people around. That's a thing of the past - that's all gone - and it will not return to the Catholic Church in Scotland."

'The lies hurt'

But victim Paul Smyth dismissed the idea that no-one in authority within the church knew he was a victim before Moore's trial.

He told BBC Scotland: "Bishop Nolan knows who I am. Bishop Taylor (the former bishop of Galloway) knows who I am.

"Where are all the lies coming from? And that's what hurts - the lies hurt."

Mr Smyth has called for Bishop Nolan to apologise to him in a face-to-face meeting.

He said: "Come and speak to me. But please do not email me or text me or phone me to say sorry. Because anybody can go behind a computer and write the word 'sorry' and it may mean nothing."

Listen to the full interview with Father Tom Boyle on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme after 09:00 on Saturday.