Vatican to investigate Cardinal Keith O'Brien 'inappropriate behaviour' claims

The BBC's Robert Piggott: "Some are sceptical about the way in which this has been motivated"

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The Vatican has said it will look into claims that Britain's most senior Roman Catholic behaved "inappropriately" towards four priests in the 1980s.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien strongly contests the allegations, which were made in Sunday's Observer newspaper.

The cleric is due to fly to Rome to take part in the conclave which will elect the next Pope, following the resignation of Benedict XVI.

Cardinal O'Brien is 74 and is due to retire from his post later this year.

The allegations centre around three priests and one former priest working in the diocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

The Observer said the men had brought their claims forward to prevent the cardinal taking part in the conclave.

The church confirmed that Cardinal O'Brien was taking legal advice. It added that the church could not fail to be saddened by the events.

Former Dominican friar Mark Dowd told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that the allegations had been formally noted before the resignation of the Pope.

The journalist and documentary maker said: "It seems that the individuals concerned who are pressing these allegations - and it must be made clear that the cardinal does contest this and there is no stated proof of any of the things that have been alleged so far - were happy to wait until the time the cardinal was about to retire in March, on his 75th birthday.

"But the individuals concerned were really quite keen to get this particular series of complaints they made brought forward, which is why in early February they sent their letters of complaint and accusations demanding his resignation to the papal ambassador here in the UK."

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