An Irish Catholic priest has been cleared of historic allegations that he sexually abused nine girls and one boy by a jury in the UK.

Limerick-born Fr Mortimer Stanley, 82, from Ballybunion, Co Kerry, had denied a string of indecent assaults said to have been committed in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, between 1977 and 2002.

The Crown alleged the priest targeted most of the complainants, who were aged under 11, in his presbytery at St Vincent de Paul RC Church in Norden when he would sit them on his knee.

Fr Stanley said children would often climb on his knee of their own accord but nothing inappropriate ever happened.

He dismissed the claims from the male complainant that he was abused after "something like chloroform" was put over his mouth as "totally untrue".

Fr Stanley retired from the priesthood in 2002 and returned to Ireland.

Jurors at Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court were unable to reach a verdict on one count of indecent assault but prosecutor Andrew Mackintosh said the Crown would not seek a retrial.

A not guilty verdict was recorded by Judge John Potter in respect of that count and also another count involving a tenth female complainant who was too unwell to give evidence during the trial.