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Civil rights lawyer defends Cardinal O'Brien

Baroness Kennedy, one of Britain's most senior lawyers, has said she feels "huge compassion" for Cardinal Keith O'Brien following sexual misconduct allegations against him, as it is unnatural to expect priests to remain celibate and not be troubled by this.

The Labour peer who was herself brought up as a Catholic in Glasgow – the archdiocese represented by the Cardinal until he was effectively sacked last week – said the requirement of celibacy for priests was "torture".

The civil rights barrister said she did not like the idea that he may have acted predatorily, but added: "Here was a man who quite clearly had wanted to have a sexual life and felt that it was a failing for him to want to have a sexual life … I feel very sad that it was something he had to in some way bury … I feel very sad for him and for his victims."