Church leaders have told of their "deep regret and sorrow" over the death of an Irish-born priest who took his own life after being falsely accused of child abuse.

Father Alan Griffin, who died in November last year, spent a year under scrutiny over abuse allegations without ever hearing the claims.

In a response to a damning coroner's report, church leaders accepted responsibility for their "poor investigation" and "what went wrong.”

The earlier, scathing coroner's report found "no complainant, no witness, and no accuser" supported the allegations.

Dublin-born Griffin had been a Church of England clergyman before converting to Catholicism in 2012.

A probe into the allegations of child abuse was started by the Anglican diocese of London in 2019, with the claims then sent on to Catholic safeguarding authorities.
The coroner had previously concluded that the situation was made worse by the fact that Griffin, who was 78 at the time of his death, was never made aware of the nature of the allegations against him.

In its response to the coroner, the Church of England admitted responsibility for conducting a poor investigation.

In its submission to the coroner, the Diocese of London and Lambeth Palace said, "We take responsibility for what went wrong.

"We acknowledge that there were either poor processes or systems, or mistakes, that led to unreasonable pressures.

"We accept that the concerns raised in respect of Father Griffin were unsubstantiated...that good practice around evidence gathering, verification and evaluation of information prior to action was lacking."

Meanwhile, a response from Catholic Church leaders to the coroner's report is expected in the coming days.

Recording his death in its recent report, the coroner said, "He was an HIV positive (viral load undetectable) gay priest.

"He killed himself because he could not cope with an investigation into his conduct, the detail of and the source for which has never been told.

"Father Griffin did not abuse children. He did not have sex with young people under the age of 18. He did not visit prostitutes. He did not endanger the lives of others by having sex with people whilst an HIV risk."

*This column first appeared in the September 8 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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