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Catholic clergy who ignored abuse claims could be reported to police

CATHOLIC clergy and ­officials who have ignored complaints over alleged sexual abuse by priests will be reported to police for prosecution, church officials have warned.

A review by the Catholic Church in Scotland into complaints of clerical sexual abuse stretching back almost 70 years demands any serious complaint since 1947 must be passed on to the police even if both alleged victim and priest are dead.

Any bishop or diocese official who has failed to pass on information on allegations will themselves be the subject of a police complaint.

Sources have claimed there "could well be further police investigations as a result of the historical review".

The move comes days after The Herald revealed that a Scots priest who had escaped prosecution for decades of sexual abuse allegations had been dismissed by the Catholic Church.

Father Thomas Mullen was effectively sacked from the church despite Crown prosecutors deciding not to proceed with the case against him because too much time had passed between the alleged offences.

The move has been hailed as being indicative of a "new resolve" to get to grips with the abuse cases that have rocked the Church.

Yesterday, Tina Campbell, national safeguarding co-ordinator for the Scottish Catholic Church, said that for the first time the eight dioceses will be made accountable for their handling of clerical sexual abuse and that allegations ignored by previous bishops will be reported by her office to police. She said: "They are having to report if they have actioned or not. If they say, 'we found something in the file but we haven't reported it to the police', they will be questioned about that.

"If there is an allegation and it has not been reported to police it must now be ­reported."

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