“Retired priest faces trial over abuse claims” & related articles

Share Button

BBC News        Glasgow & West Scotland

12 May 2017

A former Catholic priest charged with sexually abusing children in the 1970s and 80s is set to stand trial.

Father Paul Moore, 81, who worked in Ayrshire, is also accused of abusing a student priest in the 1990s.

He is accused of committing offences on boys aged between five or six and 13 at various locations, including at a primary school and Irvine beach.

At the High Court in Glasgow, he denied all the charges. Fr Moore is due to go on trial in December.


Case of alleged false priest sacking in Ayrshire is suddenly dropped

The Ayr Advertiser

05 October 2016

Catherine Hunter, Reporter

Case of alleged false priest sacking in Ayrshire is suddenly dropped

Case of alleged false priest sacking in Ayrshire is suddenly dropped

ALLEGATIONS that an Ayrshire priest had been removed from the Diocese of Galloway unfairly have been dropped before coming to a tribunal.

Father Patrick Lawson (pictured) claimed that as a seminarian, he as well as two altar boys, was abused in 1996 by Father Paul Moore, a parish priest at St Quivox Church in Prestwick.

The Diocese of Galloway 2015 Annual Reports and Accounts reported: “During 2015, the Diocese faced a potential claim for unfair dismissal from a parish priest.

“As of February 2016, the case was dropped by the claimant before coming to court. No settlement was made in favour of the claimant and both sides met their legal costs.

“The cost of the Dioceses in 2015 was £3,678 with further payments of £25,098 made in 2016.”

At the time Father Lawson opined he was removed as parish priest of St Sophia’s in Galston in September 2013 following his 18 year dispute when he spoke out against Father Moore.

Fr Lawson, who was recovering from cancer at the time, is believed to have been removed from the Diocese of Galloway after being sent the decree, which forced him to hand over the keys of his parish house.

He was appointed by Bishop Cunningham in 2005 to St Sophia’s in Galston and St Paul’s in Hurlford.

Lawson’s removal followed his decision to arrange cover for the smaller of his two parishes, St Paul’s, Hurlford, after becoming ill.

Doctors had advised him to reduce his duties. Lawson was still removed on the grounds he had caused “division” and was too ill to work, despite doctors’ written assurances that he simply needed to do less.

At the time Lawson said to our sister paper the Herald: “They waited until I was at my weakest.

“It didn’t matter that it took them eighteen years.”

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office said: “Father Lawson was asked to change Parish but he did not want to. He went to an employment tribunal.

“They then dropped the case which cost both sides money.”
It is understood there are ongoing legal proceedings against Father Paul Moore for these alleged sexual abuse incidents.

No court date has yet been set or confirmed.


Former Irvine priest Father Paul Moore arrested in connection with historic child sex abuse allegations

The Irvine Times

26 February 2016

Lisa Hodge, Senior Reporter

Father Paul Moore has been arrested in connection with alleged child sex abuse

Father Paul Moore has been arrested in connection with alleged child sex abuse

A FORMER catholic priest who was accused of abusing a child in an Irvine school has been arrested in connection with a string of historic child sex abuse allegations.

Father Paul Moore, a former chaplain at St Mark’s Primary School, is now facing possible charges of “lewd and libidinous behaviour” towards children, according to police.

The 80-year-old was at the centre of allegations involving children made by a fellow Ayrshire clergyman Patrick Lawson, who was forcibly removed from his post by the church in 2013.

Father Lawson made the claim at an employment tribunal under whistleblowing legislation.

However, tribunal records show he has now dropped his claims for both unfair dismissal and being unfairly treated for making a public interest disclosure.

Police have since confirmed Father Moore’s arrest on December 8 last year and said a report has been sent to the procurator fiscal.

A Crown Office spokeswoman said: “The Procurator Fiscal at Kilmarnock received a report concerning an 80-year-old man in connection with alleged incidents said to have occurred between January 1975 and March 1996.

“The report remains under consideration.”

Father Lawson has been outspoken about the allegations against Father Moore for almost 20 years and has claimed the church failed to deal with them appropriately.

In 2013, while recovering from cancer, he was issued with a decree of removal by Bishop John Cunningham, forcing him to leave his post and parish house within days.

The church cited his ill-health as the reason for his removal.

Father Lawson, who was parish priest of St Sophia’s in Galston and St Paul’s in Hurlford, appealed against the decision at the church’s highest court, the Signatura in Rome, but it upheld the original decision.

The priest then launched the employment tribunal against the Diocese of Galloway.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Galloway said: “We welcome the decision by Father Lawson to withdraw his employment tribunal claim against the Diocese in its entirety.”

The arrest follows the launch of an inquiry into historical abuse of children in care by the Scottish Government.

Education Secretary Angela Constance appointed Susan O’Brian QC to head the “far reaching” probe in May last year.

The church declined to comment on Father Moore’s arrest.


Pervert priest denies paying alleged victim £10,000 to keep quiet

AYRSHIRE priest Paul Moore, who has never faced a court, admits giving the man a cheque for the sum but insists it was a loan and not “hush money”.

Father Paul Moore

A PERVERT priest who has never faced a court has denied paying an alleged victim £10,000 to keep quiet.

Father Paul Moore admits giving the man a cheque for £10,000 but insists it was a loan. He said: “It wasn’t hush money.”

Ayrshire priest Moore, now 79, confessed to his bishop in the 1990s that he had abused children over several years.

But prosecutors decided not to put him on trial.

Instead, he was sent to a centre in Canada for priests with psychological problems, then allowed to retire to a house in Largs bought by the Catholic Church.

BBC investigators confronted Moore over the cheque he gave the alleged victim, who has not been named. He said of the money: “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.

“Sure, it looks now – I realise that now, in these times – but it’s not that. It wasn’t hush money.

“I mentioned it to him as, you know, in the Bible it says lend without hope of getting things back.”

The BBC investigation was broadcast last night.

BBC investigators confronted Moore over the cheque he gave the alleged victim

Police said: “We can confirm that Police Scotland has received a report of historical sexual abuse and our inquiries are ongoing.”

The Scottish Catholic Church did not comment.

A former altar boy accused Moore in 1997 of sexually abusing him twice on visits to the beach in Ayrshire in the 1980s.

The accuser, Paul Smith, said he was 11 at the time. He has never received a personal apology from the Church.

Moore has also been accused of sexually assaulting a fellow priest.

Father Patrick Lawson claimed Moore abused him when he was a young seminarian at his church, St Quivox in Prestwick, in 1996.

He claimed the Church sacked him when he went public.

Scotland’s senior Catholic cleric, Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, made a landmark public apology in August to victims of abuse by priests.


Church rejects whistleblower priest’s bid to reverse sacking

The Sunday Herald

17 Mar 2015

Gerry Braiden, Local Government Correspondent /

A CATHOLIC priest who made allegations of sexual abuse against a fellow cleric has failed in his last ditch attempt to reverse a decision by the Vatican effectively sacking him.

Father Patrick Lawson has been told by the church’s highest court that it was upholding a decision dismissing him as a parish priest in Ayrshire, citing ill-health as preventing him doing the job.

The ruling, by the Signatura in Rome, added that Father Lawson’s “ministry has been rendered substantially ineffectual to a large body of parishioners”.

But one fellow priest said “all fingers pointed” to the priest speaking out against Father Paul Moore in the 1990s, as the root cause of his dismissal. Moore later admitted to his bishop he abused boys

The Galston priest, who once described the church as a mafia seeking to destroy him, had been issued with a decree to remove him back in mid-2013, with his then bishop raising concerns about his physical and psychological health.

Father Lawson had been recovering from bladder cancer and receiving counselling at the time.

A statement to parishioners from the recently-installed Bishop of Galloway William Nolan said Father Lawson had not been removed from the priesthood and would be supported by the Diocese. However, the ruling removes him from running a parish or pastoral duties.

He still has a civil action pending against the church on the grounds of unfair dismissal.

Father Lawson has claimed that as a seminarian he was abused in 1996 by Moore at St Quivox Church in Prestwick, with the church failing to deal appropriately with his complaint in the intervening years.

The matter was reported to the police but did not proceed to prosecution.

A decade ago, with clergy numbers dwindling, he was posted to a three-church parish and merged two. After he was diagnosed with cancer, former bishop John Cunningham insisted he should retire, referencing letters “sent by your medical doctors and psychotherapist”.

His condition sparked a parish split, with some complaining about the impact his health had on his ability to fulfil his duties while others wrote letters of support to Rome.

He appealed to Rome against removal from his office as Parish Priest of St Sophia’s Galston and St Paul’s Hurlford.

but failed before another appeal to the Signatura last year. It emerged at the weekend that this too has failed.

The final statement noted that Father Lawson was “as a result of ill-health, unable to dedicate himself to the full pastoral care of the parishes entrusted to him…he has verifiably declined or resisted all reasonable solutions to his predicament, namely a review of his duties”.

It claimed “the existence of two groups among the faithful, one in zealous support and the other in considerable disaffection…strongly suggests a notable division within the parish community”, adding that the loss of his “good name among upright and serious-minded parishioners is unlikely to come to an end”.

But one friend in the clergy said: “I was sick to the stomach when I heard this. The Bishop gave us the option of reading the letter out or leaving it for people to pick it up.

“I couldn’t read it. It was a statement. I’ve always said there’s more to this than meets the eye.”

A statement on behalf of the Diocese said: “Bishop Nolan urges the priests and people of the Diocese to accept the decision, to pray that the wounds of those hurt by this process may be healed and to work for reconciliation and harmony in the Church.”

Father Lawson was unavailable for comment.


Church rejects abused priest’s plea for justice

The Sunday Herald (Scotland)

01 February 2014

Father Patrick Lawson, who has been fighting for justice for 18 years

Father Patrick Lawson, who has been fighting for justice for 18 years

Sunday night in late January, a coal-black sky and brutal chill in Ayrshire, as the faithful gather.

Not in church but in the welcoming glow of a house in Darvel, where Father Patrick Lawson, who has been removed from his parish by the Bishop of Galloway, John Cunningham, will celebrate a private mass. Father Lawson is recovering from serious illness and inside the house, as candlelight flickers up from the altar and illuminates his face, there is concern among his supporters.

He has been up sick the night before and the stress is showing. “Father doesn’t look well,” one says. “I saw him pulling up his trousers,” says another, referring to the weight he has lost. Father Lawson smiles wryly. “I hope nobody misinterprets that.”

But that is the interesting thing about Patrick Lawson’s case. There is no scandal or priestly sexual impropriety – at least not on his part. The abuser in this tale walks free.

Last week, just days after supporters rallied to the house mass, he heard his appeal to Rome against his bishop’s decision had been rejected. He will now appeal to the Signatura, the highest court in Rome, and is also taking an industrial tribunal case for unfair dismissal.

Last night, a group of his supporters returned to the principal parish church at St Sophia’s, Galston, for the first time since his removal in September last year, to protest when a letter informing parishioners of Rome’s decision was read out.

Not that the bishop explained anything. He would remain silent, the letter insisted, until all ­proceedings were concluded, “to protect the integrity of this process and the reputation of Father Lawson”. As if there is some dark secret about Lawson, yet to be declared. What could it be?

There have been many abuser priests secretly moved and protected in the Catholic Church. Which of them has been publicly evicted? Yet in the last six months, two Scottish priests – Pat Lawson and Matthew Despard – have been removed from parishes. The two cases are very different but have one thing in common: both priests have spoken out against the church hierarchy. Pat Lawson has fought for the entire 18 years of his priesthood to have church authorities deal appropriately with a serious case of sexual abuse. Despard has spoken out on a separate matter: the secret culture of homosexuality within the priesthood. So what is really going on in the Scottish Catholic church?

There have been many cups of coffee over a kitchen table in the months since I first followed the story of Father Patrick Lawson’s eviction. “You’re a journalist,” he would say. “What do you think will happen in Rome?” He’ll lose. “Really?” and each time he said it, his blue eyes betrayed a glimmer of crushing disappointment.

“Won’t justice prevail?” That’s the first thing you need to know about Patrick Lawson: he believes not just in God but in justice. He admits to waiting for the church equivalent of the Wizard of Oz to appear and rectify all the institution’s injustices.But in the months since the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien for abuse of power the church has refused to implement any transparent processes and procedures that suggest justice is valued. Instead, there have been hushed platitudes about “forgiveness”. Forgiveness means nobody need say anything and the currency of the Catholic Church is silence. It is another control mechanism.

There have been many years of silence for Patrick Lawson. To understand his story, it is necessary to go right back to 1996. Then a seminarian, he was posted to St Quivox, Prestwick, under the supervision of parish priest Father Paul Moore. One night, he woke to find Moore fondling him under the bedclothes.

He rebuffed Moore, but the parish priest continued to make advances. He also noticed Moore’s secrecy about a locked cupboard. “I found a box of keys, and tried each one until it opened. At the bottom, were videos. I don’t know what was on them. On the shelves were photographs, some with names on. Provocative photographs: young boys in different poses, some with hats on, naked at the beach. I felt really sick.”

Lawson also discovered Moore had abused altar boys and reported this to his bishop, Maurice Taylor.

Taylor and Moore already knew one another. They went on holiday together, visiting a Vatican diplomat from Galloway, Father Peter Magee. Lawson says he found letters between Magee and Moore in the locked cupboard. Magee would later become the head of the Scottish Tribunal, the person responsible for issuing legal advice to the Scottish bishops.

For 17 years, Lawson campaigned for appropriate action to be taken over Moore’s abuse. He gave names and numbers of victims to Taylor asking him to help them. Nothing happened. He asked that Moore be laicised – ejected from the priesthood. Nothing happened. Instead, Taylor told parishioners that Moore was going on a well-earned sabbatical. In fact, he was sent abroad for psychological counselling.

ON his return, he was given a presentation and a retirement home – an irony that has not gone unnoticed in Galston. Lawson has had to move back in with his elderly mother and has no house and no income except a small monthly pension the church pays while proceedings in Rome continue. They even deduct his removal costs from the pension each month.

When Taylor retired, Lawson approached his successor, John Cunningham. He also appealed to Cardinal O’Brien, just before news broke of O’Brien’s sexual advances to his own priests, and appealed to Archbishop Philip Tartaglia. All refused to help. He felt constantly like an outsider. “Rooms would often go silent when I walked in,” he recalls.

Fast forward to 2012. By now, Lawson was looking after three parishes and six towns, but became ill with bladder cancer. He arranged his own cover, receiving no help or visits from the diocese. Doctors advised him to cut his workload and he arranged cover for the parish he did not live in, St Paul’s in Hurlford. It was already a divided community with a history of tension predating Father Lawson’s arrival. People there were unhappy that they did not have a resident priest. But things escalated when the Vicar General, Willie McFadden, went to St Paul’s without telling Lawson, and advised parishioners to put complaints in writing. A parishioner issued pro formas. Twenty-three complaints were received, at least one from someone outwith the parish.

When news of this ­orchestrated campaign leaked, Lawson’s ­supporters swung into action. Over 200 letters of support were written. Bishop Cunningham ignored them. Now suffering from stress as well as cancer, Lawson submitted evidence from doctors advising that he could continue with work but only on a reduced basis. The bishop then used the very letters that had been written in support of him as evidence that he was too ill to work.

Although the bishop refuses to say publicly what this case is about, the official grounds for removal on church documents are threefold. Firstly, Father Lawson’s ill-health. Secondly, the “loss of his good name” because of the complaints. And thirdly, the “grave harm” this division has done to the ecclesiastical community. But what was it really about? “We knew it was really about his stance over Paul Moore,” says parish secretary Manuela Simonini.

The decision from Rome, a seven-page document, just rubber-stamps everything submitted by the bishop, saying the 23 complaints are from “upright and serious-minded parishioners”. The 200 supporters, presumably, are not upright and serious. “I am appalled by the decision,” says George Gardner, who organised the house mass to show Father Pat the support for him in the parish, “but even more by the blatant steps taken by the diocese to discredit him.”

Gardner provided music for St Sophia’s for 30 years but no longer attends. “Rome’s decision just ignores the evidence. It is time to retaliate.” When news of complaints began to circulate, explains Gardner, rumours in the community spread about what they were about. Had he stolen from the church? Invented his cancer? “Some of the rumours were spurious and trivial,” says Gardner. “Some of them just downright lies.”

If Rome believed that simply upholding the bishop’s authority was likely to dampen down scandal and enforce discipline, the calculation may misfire. The authoritarian way the church has dealt with challenge, while simultaneously preaching “forgiveness” for those who have seriously abused their power, has created a standoff.

On one side is a growing number of priests and lay people who want change; on the other is an old-guard hierarchy, afloat in a turbulent sea of scandals, clinging to the old certainties of secrecy, obedience and control like lifebuoys.

Father Gerry Magee, another Galloway diocese priest, contacted Lawson immediately when he heard of Rome’s decision. The bishop had assured priests Lawson had been informed, but he knew nothing.

Despite the letters being dated January 7, he did not receive his until January 30 – the day after his fellow priests were told. A mix-up in Rome, the bishop claimed. A disgrace, says Magee. Magee felt sick when he heard the decision, and contacted Bishop Cunningham immediately.

“What I ask, in God’s name is going on here?” he wrote. “All that I am certain of is that all those responsible for this disgrace will be held accountable by God.”

Another coffee over the kitchen table, but this time it is clear the stress is having a deep effect on Patrick Lawson. He can’t sleep: “The vitriol I have experienced just goes round and round in my head.” Some of the symptoms of his illness have returned, he confides. Perhaps, he says hopefully, it is just an infection.

He can’t give up his fight for justice. He needs to raise €1000 Euro for his Signatura appeal: parishioners say they will raise cash. He has been granted legal aid for the employment tribunal case which will begin this month. It will centre on whether a priest is an employee or not. It is likely to be protracted but if he wins the right to have it heard at a tribunal, it will establish employment rights for all priests across Britain.

Excellent news, says American Canon lawyer Tom Doyle, who represents abuse victims worldwide. It is civil law, not Canon law, that will force the church to do the right thing. “Canon law is a legal system created for a monarchy,” he explains.

Father Lawson’s exposure of Paul Moore is not even mentioned in the ruling. “That is clearly the elephant in the sacristy and the main issue in the case. But the aggrieved person, Father Lawson, is involved in a process that is effectively controlled by the bishop and heavily weighted in the bishop’s favour.”

At 55, Lawson is one of the younger priests in his diocese. Despite desperate shortages, they want him out. “It makes me feel less …” He stops. Less what? “Less worthy.” This is not about winning and losing, but about self-respect. You cannot lose when you do the thing that you know in your heart is right.

He is, though, focusing on civil rather than church justice. “The wizard,” he says quietly, “is not going to show up. Is he?”


Former altar boy abused by paedophile priest breaks his silence to reveal his despair at how crime was covered up

PAUL SMYTH, who says he was 11 when paedophile Father Paul Moore sexually assaulted him, wants an apology after the clergyman was never brought to trial despite his victims co-operating with police.

The Daily Record (UK)

07:49, 8 SEP 2013

Updated13:53, 9 SEP 2013

Paul Smyth who claims he was abused by a priest when younger.Paul Smyth who claims he was abused by a priest when younger. (Photo: Kenneth Ferguson)

THE victim of a paedophile priest who escaped being prosecuted even though he confessed to his crimes has broken his silence over his ordeal and his despair.

Paul Smyth, who says he was just 11 when Father Paul Moore sexually assaulted him, reveals his anger that the priest was never brought to trial, despite his victims co-operating fully with the police.

In the 1990s, Moore admitted to former Bishop Maurice Taylor that he had abused children over several years.

But prosecutors decided not to pursue a criminal case against the pervert priest. Instead, he was sent away to a special centre in Canada for treatment before returning to Ayrshire, where he now lives in a church-owned house.

Moore’s victims are now demanding to know why the priest was not brought to court despite overwhelming evidence against him.

Paul spoke out yesterday, just weeks after another priest – a former colleague of Moore’s – revealed that he was also sexually assaulted by him.

Father Francis Paul Moore

Father Francis Paul Moore

Both men believe the Catholic Church and prosecutors failed to deal with their complaints seriously enough and have condemned them for continuing to support Moore, now 77.

Paul, 44, who has mild learning difficulties, says he was abused twice by Moore while serving as an altar boy at St Margaret’s Church in Irvine.

He claims the priest indecently assaulted him during two trips to the beach in the early 1980s.

He was interviewed by police after they approached him during an investigation into claims made by other victims in 1997.

Paul, who still lives in Irvine, said: “I had been an altar boy at St Margaret’s and Fr Moore was our parish priest.

“He always appeared to everyone as a nice guy, full of stories and friendly.

“The abuse happened when Fr Moore took me to the beach at Irvine.

“I was around 11 years old at the time and my parents were happy that the priest had taken me for a nice day out.

“He said he was taking me for a swim but when we came out, he went to dry me and he touched me. He was touching me and touching himself.

“I was shocked but I just didn’t know what to do.

“Another time, he took me to the beach again and we were supposed to be playing a game where he was burying me in the sand. Then it happened again.

“I could tell he was aroused but I didn’t really understand what was going on. I was too young and embarrassed.

‘When it was over, he got dressed and so did I. There was silence in his car all the way home.

“After that, I knew that I never wanted to be alone with him again.”

Moore was parish priest at St Margaret’s in the 1970s and 80s before he was transferred to St Quivox Church in Prestwick in 1996.

It’s believed he was interviewed by then Bishop Maurice Taylor after his fellow priest, known only as Father Michael, raised the alarm.

At that point, police contacted Paul after his name emerged during their investigation.

He was told they had taken testimonies from at least two other victims. He said: “I suspected what they wanted to speak to me about – though I had never told anyone else what Fr Moore had done to me.

“The police interviewed me three times, in London, Irvine and Saltcoats.

“When they were in London, they told me there were two others they had spoken to, but I don’t know their details.

“I had to tell my parents what had happened and that was upsetting because we had all gone to church regularly and they were angry and heartbroken. None of us go now.”

Despite Moore’s confession to the bishop, he was moved to Southdown, a treatment centre in Ontario, Canada, for priests with pyschological problems.

The Crown Office said in 1999 that they had decided not proceed with action against him.

He was later allowed to return to Scotland, where he worked for a time at Fort Augustus Abbey School, which was at the centre of fresh sex abuse allegations in July.

Moore now lives in a church-owned house in Largs.

Both Paul and Fr Michael have questioned the Catholic Church’s handling of the affair. Michael said he brought the matter to the attention of disgraced Cardinal Keith O’Brien in 1996 and again earlier this year, but nothing was done.

Last month, it emerged that O’Brien – who resigned in March amid allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct with junior priests – had blocked a full inquiry into sex abuse claims against the clergy while still in office.

Care home worker Paul said he heard nothing more from the police and when he returned to Irvine in 2000, he went to the police station to inform them.

He said: “They took my new address and told me that if I saw Fr Moore in the street, that I was to walk away and not get involved or I would get into trouble.

“He has tried to stop me in the street to speak to me several times since 2004 but I do not want to speak to him.

“I just cannot understand why he has been allowed to get away with that he did to me and the others.

‘The church have never tried to protect me or any of the other victims and that is wrong.

“It has been hard for me to try and get on with my life and hold down a job, but I do. I often think about the other victims and how they are coping.

“I get angry that the church have not told the truth about what happened to us. Maybe there are other victims out there too. I hope they have the strength to come forward now so the case is re-opened and we can all get to the truth.

“What I want most of all is an apology, but I don’t think the church will ever say sorry. That makes me very sad.”

Paul now plans to take a civil action against the Catholic Church.

His lawyer Cameron Fyfe said: “This was a distressing case involving a child with learning difficulties. I am writing to the police to ask whether any others have since come forward with information which may now lead to a fresh inquiry.”

Police Scotland said: “We can confirm that on February 9, 1998, a 61-year-old man was reported to the procurator fiscal in connection with sexual offences.”

When we confronted Moore yesterday, he told us: “I will not say anything. It has all been dealt
with through the appropriate channels.”

Asked if he would apologise, he repeated: “Everything has been dealt with.”

We then asked if he anticipated any further action. He replied: “Not really.”

Leave a Reply