Shamed Keith O’Brien in £209k home owned by church

Keith O'Brien is living in a �209k bungalow. Picture:  PHIL WILKINSON
Keith O'Brien is living in a �209k bungalow. Picture: PHIL WILKINSON
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SHAMED cardinal Keith O’Brien is enjoying a quiet retirement in a comfortable home bought by the Catholic Church.

The UK’s former senior Catholic is staying in a £208,750 bungalow – bought by Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh Leo Cushley – in a Northumberland village.

It had previously been thought O’Brien was living in a monastery in 
England after admitting he had “fallen beneath the standards” expected of him.

But the disgraced churchman has been living in the village of Ellington, Northumberland, since January.

Documents show the house was purchased in the same month by Cushley – who succeeded O’Brien as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh – and two other leading churchmen in their capacity as trustees of the 
archdiocese.

Neighbours, unaware of his identity, spoke of regular groups of visitors with Scottish accents.

O’Brien fell from grace after being accused of hypocrisy over his continual condemnation of homosexuality. He stepped down from his role in February last year and remains under investigation by the Vatican, who ordered him to undertake an unspecified period of “prayer and penance”.

Previously three serving Catholic Fathers and one former priest came forward to accuse him of inappropriate sexual contact with them dating back decades.

Cushley’s name appears as a registered owner of the property now occupied by his shamed predecessor.

The other purchasers of the house are listed as Monsignor Alistair Lawson and Monsignor Philip Kerr, who hold the important title of Vicar General.

They are named in title deeds as having bought the house as “trustees of the charity known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh”.

The purchase came less than a year after the allegations against O’Brien were made public.

The first record of the disgraced cardinal appearing on the voters’ roll there came later that same month.

Cardinal O’Brien, 76, refused to comment when confronted referring all questions to the diocese.

He said: “I’m not speaking to anyone at the moment.”

When asked about the property he said: “You’ll need to check that with the diocese.

“I’m not talking about it, I’m not allowed to talk about it.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com