Sexual abuse charges against extradited retired priest dropped

Robert MacKenzie, who was accused of alleged offences dating back to the 1950s, will not be prosecuted.

Sexual abuse charges against extradited retired priest dropped Photoboyko via iStock
Priest: Robert MacKenzie, who was accused of alleged offences dating back to the 1950s, will not be prosecuted.

A retired priest extradited from Canada to face child sex abuse allegations in Scotland will not be prosecuted.

The case against 87-year-old Robert MacKenzie, who was accused of alleged offences dating back to the 1950s, has been dropped.

The Crown Office said that after careful consideration there should be no further proceedings.

Disclosure of its reasons, it said, “may expose a person to accusations where they no longer have the opportunity of defending themselves in court”.

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Fr MacKenzie had been accused of committing offences at two Catholic boarding schools.

A total of 18 charges involved alleged physical and sexual abuse at Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands and at Carlekemp Preparatory School in East Lothian between 1955 and 1988.

He had denied the allegations. Both schools closed decades ago.

One of the Edinburgh-born priest’s accusers has spoken of his deep disappointment with the Crown Office’s decision.

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Fr MacKenzie taught for two spells at Carlekemp.

He was a teacher and housemaster at Fort Augustus between 1977 and 1988.

He later moved to Saskatchewan before retiring.

The Crown Office was granted a petition warrant for his arrest in 2017.

He stood trial last year. He was held in custody until his release on bail in March this year.

The Crown Office said it would not be appropriate to give its reasons for dropping the charges “to respect the rights of all of those involved in the case”.

It added: “Such decisions are based on confidential information, for example relating to essential witnesses.”