Page last updated at 12:59 GMT, Thursday, 30 June 2005 13:59 UK

Church counts cost of abuse cases

Simon Grey. Copyright Central News Press Agency
Simon Grey accused Father Clonan of abusing him over eight years

Father Christopher Clonan has so far cost the Catholic Church almost 1m in compensation payments.

In January last year the Church agreed to pay former altar boy Simon Grey 330,000 for the abuse he suffered.

The out-of-court settlement was reached just days before he was due to sue the Church for failing to act on claims the priest posed a danger to children.

The latest case has seen a 35-year-old man awarded 600,000 at the High Court for abuse suffered over ten years.

Mr Grey was abused at Christ The King Church, Coventry, where Clonan worked for 20 years.

Speaking after the latest compensation case against Clonan, Robert Pigott, the BBC's religious affairs correspondent, said this case could cause problems for the Catholic Church.

Most of the compensation awarded is for loss of earnings which is why this case is different
Peter Jennings, Archdiocese of Birmingham

"It's going to wake up certain issues again, it certainly doesn't help," he added.

Some legal analysts said this case could lead to other high-profile claims against the Church.

But Peter Jennings, of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, said he did not believe the case would set a precedent.

"This is a one-off case," he said. "Most of the compensation awarded is for loss of earnings, which is why this case is different."

Father Clonan came to the church in Coventry as an assistant priest in 1972 and also became a governor of the Cardinal Newman Secondary School.

In the latest compensation case, heard on Thursday, Mr Justice Clarke said: "He (Clonan) came from a wealthy background, had property in Ireland and appeared to be a breath of fresh air.

"He was trusted and admired."

West Midlands Police launched an inquiry last year into suggestions that Clonan may have faked his own death.

But after two officers travelled to Melbourne to investigate they concluded he had died.

Officers revealed in 2003 that eight complainants - aged between eight and 17 at the time of the reported offences - had accused the priest of abuse.

Priest abuse victim wins pay-out
30 Jun 05 |  West Midlands

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