The friends of a priest who made explosive claims about sexual bullying in Scotland’s Catholic Church fear he could be sacked.

Father Matthew Despard spoke of a culture of sexual misconduct in a book published last month.

Friends of Father Despard are worried he could be stripped of his priesthood for speaking out.

The Daily Record reports a friend said: “Bishop Joe Devine called diocesan advisers to an emergency meeting to discuss Fr Despard’s claims.

“They told him he must ask the priest to attend a private meeting and explain his actions.

“They were said to be furious about what had been said. No definite action has been taken but the objective is clear – to silence him. He’s expecting some disciplinary action but is worried they might try to drive him out of the church.”

Fr Despard is the parish priest of St John Ogilvie Church in High Blantyre, Lanarkshire.

He wrote the book ‘Priesthood in Crisis’ in 2010, but he self-published it on Amazon’s Kindle store last month in the wake of the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

The controversial book claims a powerful ‘gay mafia’ covered up a culture of sexual bullying.

Fr Despard revealed of how he fended off numerous advances from fellow students and priests from his time as a seminarian.

Cardinal O’Brien resigned as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church in late February, following a string of sexual misconduct allegations made by several Catholic priests.

The 75-year-old, who contested the first set of allegations, admitted in March that his “sexual conduct” had been “below the standards expected” of him.