An Italian television investigation has revealed that a deputy governor of the Vatican was transferred last year against his will after complaining about irregularities in the awarding of contracts.

The programme showed letters from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano informing Pope Benedict that he had discovered a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to inflated contract payments.

For example, an outdoor crib had cost more than twice what it should have.

The Archbishop also claimed that Italian bankers who managed some Vatican investments had put their own interests first.

The Vatican responded by criticising the methods used in making the programme.

In a statement, the Vatican highlights the "questionable journalistic methods" with which the programme was made, and "disappointment at the revelation of reserved documents".

It said that such things often form part of the "biased coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church".

The Holy See Press Office director says a fairer evaluation would have taken account of the trends of the market and the difficult process of discerning the various aspects involved in managing a complex institution.