Four people – three priests and one former priest – are reported to have complained to nuncio Antonio Mennini, the Pope’s representative in Britain, about Cardinal O’Brien’s inappropriate behaviour towards them in the 1980s.

Cardinal O’Brien has handed in his resignation and is to step down from post with immediate effect.

“I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest,” O’Brien has said in a statement.

“Looking back over my years of ministry: For any good I have been able to do, I thank God. For any failures, I apologise to all whom I have offended.

The UK will now no longer have a voice in next month’s election to choose a new pope as O’Brien was the UK’s only representation in this.

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