Roman Catholic priest gave £10,000 to alleged abuse victim

By Mark Daly
BBC Scotland Investigations Correspondent

  • Published
Media caption,

A BBC Scotland investigation has revealed a retired Catholic priest who is accused of child sex abuse gave one of his alleged victims a cheque for £10,000

A retired Catholic priest accused of child sex abuse gave one of his alleged victims a cheque for £10,000, a BBC Scotland investigation has revealed.

Fr Paul Moore has denied that the cheque to the former altar boy was intended as "hush money".

The former Ayrshire priest says it was "a loan" and a "private matter".

Fr Moore admitted to child sex offences to the then Bishop of Galloway, Maurice Taylor, in the late 90s and was removed from the ministry.

He has never been prosecuted and lives in a home bought for him by the church.

Two years ago, the BBC revealed claims by former altar boy Paul Smyth that he'd been abused by Fr Moore. Although he gave testimony anonymously at the time, he's since decided to waive his anonymity.

"I just want people to know the truth, I'm not running away any more," he said.

Abuse on beach

Mr Smyth told the BBC how he'd been sexually assaulted on Irvine beach when he was 11. He eventually told the police what happened in 1997, after Fr Moore apparently admitted the abuse to Bishop Taylor.

Bishop Taylor told the BBC in 2013 that Fr Moore had made admissions to him, but he initially did not tell the police about it, and sent him instead to a treatment clinic in Canada, then to Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands.

Bishop Taylor said in 2013: "In April 1996, Fr Moore told me of actions which had occurred years previously. On his admission of these to me I removed him from the pastoral ministry.

Image caption,
Fr Moore being shown the cheque by Mark Daly
Image source, Carol Duncan
Image caption,
Fr Moore was sent to Fort Augustus after allegedly admitting child abuse to the bishop

"I sought advice on how to handle Fr Moore's admission from social workers, experts in child protection and legal figures.

"The initial advice I was given was that since no allegations had been made against Fr Moore but that he had made personal admission to me, I didn't need to inform the authorities."

Fort Augustus Abbey, where Fr Moore went after the Canadian treatment centre, was the subject of a BBC investigation into historic child sex abuse, and now a major police inquiry.

The police were eventually informed about Fr Moore's admissions by the diocese, and a report was made to the procurator fiscal. Charges were never brought against Fr Moore.

But now, the BBC has learned of a second alleged victim of Fr Moore.

'Hush money'

The second man, also a former altar server and now in his late 40s, says he was abused by Fr Moore for several years as a teenager in Ayrshire.

The BBC has obtained a copy of a cheque given to the man by Fr Moore in 2009.

Fr Moore, who lives as a retired priest in a grace and favour home paid for by the church, denies the cheque was "hush money" and says it was meant as a loan.

His alleged victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, said it was "more than conceivable" the money was intended to "keep him sweet" though says he did not threaten him with going to the police if he did not give him the money.

Image caption,
Paul Smyth claims he was abused by Fr Moore on Irvine Beach

He has not made a formal police complaint about the abuse he says he suffered at the hands of Fr Moore.

When confronted by the BBC on Friday, Fr Moore denied that he'd confessed any child abuse to Bishop Taylor, and said the cheque to his alleged victim was meant as a loan.

He said: "I lent him that because I wasn't using it - it was sitting aside and when I'm asked to help people that's what I try to do."

He accepted he was aware the man had made allegations against him, and was asked if he accepted that a payment to an alleged victim may look like "hush money".

He responded: "Sure, it looks now, I realise that now in these times but it's not that, it wasn't hush money.

"In the bible it says lend without hope of getting things back... as far as I'm concerned he can keep it."

Third alleged victim

Fr Moore, now 79, strenuously denied abusing the man, and also denied Paul Smyth's abuse allegations, claiming they "could be looking for money."

Asked if the two men were lying about the abuse claims, Fr Moore said: "No, they're not lying. They think that's what it is. But it's not."

Fr Moore says the Church, and Bishop Taylor, was fully aware of the money he gave to his alleged victim, but no-one from the Catholic Church was available for comment.

The BBC understands a third alleged victim of Fr Moore has now come forward to Police Scotland in the past fortnight, claiming he was abused at St Mark's Primary school in Irvine, Ayrshire, where Fr Moore was chaplain.

A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that Police Scotland has received a report of historical sexual abuse and our inquiries are ongoing."

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