The Vatican has been embroiled in a row with neighbours of a luxury flat it owns in London over what has been described as “hellish noise” caused by parties.
The property, in one of London’s most exclusive addresses, was bought by the Vatican in 2014 and is advertised for rent by an intermediary company for £30,000 per week.
However, neighbouring residents at Hans Place in Chelsea, have now been forced to complain to the council and the Holy See’s ambassador to the UK about late-night events, including one reportedly involving a DJ.
Stretching across three floors, the 9,000 sq ft property boasts an indoor swimming pool and a large garden, pictured below.
It is understood noise enforcement officers at the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) have received four complaints this year about the property, relating to two parties.
Police and council officers had to remove partygoers from the flat on the first occasion, at 1am on May 30, according to RBKC.
A council spokesman said: “There was no music or raised voices at the time of the attendance.”
The second incident took place on June 27, but the noise was said to have stopped before council officers arrived on the scene.
Correspondence between residents and the council, seen by the Financial Times, showed the neighbours complaining of a “hellish noise”.
A councillor wrote in response that the borough’s noise team had written to a Jersey-incorporated company through which the Vatican owns the property, according to the newspaper.
One resident said he had contacted the Vatican’s ambassador to the UK out of frustration, telling the FT: “I have written to Apostolic Nuncio [the Vatican ambassador at the embassy] but they have done nothing about this.”
Responding to the complaint in an email, the office of the ambassador was reported to have expressed hope that “action with the local authority” and others would help to resolve the problem.
The company managing the property was not accused of any wrongdoing, but a spokesman told the FT it did not anticipate “any recurrence” of the noise issues after investigating the complaints.
The flat was said to have been let out to several tenants over the past year, but it had not been rented out on short-term leases, according to the spokesman.
The complaints come after several top former officials, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu, were recently indicted by the Vatican on a string of financial charges in relation to a £300 million investment in a London real estate venture.
The financial corruption charges – against five Vatican officials and five external consultants – centre on the purchase of a separate building in Chelsea, 60 Sloane Avenue, in 2018.
Cardinal Becciu, who denies any wrongdoing, previously oversaw the purchase of the flat in Hans Place when he was the chief of staff in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the body that performs the political and diplomatic functions of the Holy See.
There is no suggestion that any Vatican employees were present at, or involved in the organising of, any parties held at the flat, nor did Cardinal Becciu have any role in overseeing the rental or management of any of the Holy See’s London properties.
A spokesman for the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See told The Telegraph it was “not the duty of the embassy” to deal with the noise complaints but “a matter for the local disciplinary authority” because it is a “public nuisance issue”.
He added: “We have made it clear that the embassy cannot interfere in that matter, we have informed the local authority (of the complaints) but it is a matter of local discipline.”
The spokesman declined to comment any further.