The Catholic Church is claiming that a News of the World story alleging money was paid to a paedophile priest to buy his silence was based on a hoax.
A transcript of an alleged conversation between Bishop Howard Tripp and Michael Hill in Belmarsh Prison last December has been sent by the NoW to the office of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, leader of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The transcript, on which the paper’s 12 January story was based, purports to show that the bishop offered £50,000 for Hill to “disappear” when he was released.
But Mark Morley, spokesman for the Cardinal, describes the transcript as “not representing a coherent body of writing”. “It is fairly amateur. Even at a cursory glance, a lay observer – not in the religious sense – who has a vague understanding of how human beings communicate, would think the speech patterns do not indicate it as a likely conversation to have taken place.
“This is a hoax transcript. We are determined to have established publicly once and for all that this story is inaccurate,” he added.
A spokeswoman for News International said: “Our lawyers are dealing with the matter.”
By Paul Donovan