09/11/2011 12:32 GMT | Updated 09/01/2012 10:12 GMT

Catholic Church Liable For Sex Crimes Of Clergy, Following Test Case

The Catholic Church could be forced to pay millions of pounds to sex abuse victims following a landmark decision by the High Court.

Following Tuesday's judgment by Mr Justice MacDuff, the church, long-mired in a child sex abuse scandal, could be held liable for the crimes of its priests.

The test case found that the actions of Father Wilfred Baldwin, who allegedly raped a girl 41 years ago in Hampshire, were the church's responsibility.

Baldwin died in 2006, however due to the judgment the victim can now sue for compensation from the Bishop of Portsmouth.

During the trial, the church argued that as Baldwin was not an employee, they should not be held responsible for his actions,

However, Justice MacDuff found that as Baldwin was appointed on behalf of the defendants and "given free rein to act as a representative of the church", they were liable for his actions.

The diocese is expected to appeal the decision.