Claims of ‘lockdown sex party’ hosted by former Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral to be investigated by the Vatican

Claims of ‘lockdown sex party’ hosted by the former Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral in Newcastle to be investigated by the Vatican as  part of a wider look into the resignation of former Bishop Robert Byrne

Allegations of a ‘lockdown sex party’ that was said to have taken place in a property next to Newcastle’s St Mary’s Cathedral are now to be investigated by the Vatican, according to a report from the Sunday Times.

The heads of the Roman Catholic church are set to look into claims as part of a wider investigation into the retirement of Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle, Robert Byrne, in December 2022.

The Vatican has made it clear however that this part of the investigation does not involve the former Bishop, who was not aware nor made aware of the alleged party, but rather the late Father Michael McCoy.

“A number of complaints were made by individuals within the diocese after information came to light about a sex party taking place in the priests’ living quarters attached to Newcastle cathedral,” a source told the Sunday Times.

The allegations involving McCoy are said to have taken place against the backdrop of  lockdown, in place across the United Kingdom at the time the former Dean of St Mary’s Cathedral is said to have invited several members of the congregation to a ‘sex party’ next door to the place of worship. The revelations led some members of the parish to call the church “a laughing stock.”

Canon McCoy was found dead in his home on August 10, 2021 after learning he would be investigated for a ‘historic allegation’ made against him - shortly after being visited by police officers to arrange a voluntary interview. At the time, McCoy was residing in several AirBnBs but was said to have been deeply unhappy regarding his situation.

A spokesperson for the Hexham and Newcastle diocese said:  “The review is now underway. Prior to Bishop Byrne’s resignation in mid-December, trustees were working with the Charity Commission, following their self-referral to that organisation.”

The investigation is the second the Vatican is currently undertaking, after news emerged the Roman Catholic church would re-open the case regarding the disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, who went missing on 22 June, 1983 while making her way home from a flute lesson in Rome. The Orlandi family lived in Vatican City, where her father was a lay employee in the papal household.