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FATHER NOEL TOLD TO GIVE UP LIBEL CASH; Priest goes into hiding.

FATHER Noel Barry went into hiding yesterday as pressure grew on him to give up his pounds 45,000 court payout to charity.

The beleaguered priest turned his back on his congregation and arranged for a friend to take Mass at his church.

The official spokesman for Cardinal Thomas Winning claimed he was too "exhausted" to take Sunday Mass.

There was no sign of him at his Chapel House behind St Joseph's Church in Milngavie, near Glasgow.

And stand-in priest Father Peter Smith refused to be drawn on why the 42- year-old had failed to turn up.

Last night speculation was growing that Catholic leaders had instructed Father Barry to stay away.

Hugh Farmer, editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer, said: "Father Barry has said he did not take the Sun to court for money.

"It would be appropriate he gives the money to charity, and what better charity than Cardinal Winning's fund set up for young pregnant mothers."

He said no one should jump to any conclusions about the priest's absence.

But Mr Farmer added: "Father Barry's confesssion in the witness box that he went to a hotel room with a woman and that he still loves her must merit some kind of censure."

A court awarded Father Barry the damages for defamation on Friday.

The priest and his teacher friend Annie Clinton took action against The Sun over an article published in 1996.

They claimed it defamed them by hinting they were having a secret sex affair.

But ex-nun Caroline Brown then told the Court of Session that he broke his vows of celibacy and made love to her.

Catholic Church spokesman Father Tom Connolly said the decision not to take Mass had been Father Barry's.

He said: "He has not gone away. He will be back as large as life."

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Author:Mulford, Sarah
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 21, 1998
Words:307
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