Brian May angered by Sunday Times report about Sir Patrick Moore's house

Guitarist attacks newspaper's 'dustbin sniffing' after it says he bought house so astronomer had a secure home until death

The Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May has denounced the Sunday Times for "dustbin sniffing", after reports that he bought Sir Patrick Moore's house four years ago, above its market value, so the veteran astronomer could continue living in his own home until his death a week ago, aged 89.

In a statement to the Guardian, May said it was too soon to decide the future of the house, Farthings, a part Tudor thatched cottage in Selsey, West Sussex, crammed with Moore's scientific and personal possessions, which he had hoped could become a centre for young astronomers.

"It's too early to be able to comment meaningfully on this. As Patrick's friends, we have been discussing possible futures for some time, but until now the first priority has always been safeguarding the quality of Patrick's life while he was alive. It will take time to assess what the possibilities now are," May said.

"Opening Patrick's house to the public would probably require a major commitment from a number of people, because it's unlikely that the government would fund such a project. We will be quietly looking at ideas in the next few weeks."

May struck a far angrier note on his own website, denouncing the Sunday Times report – which was in the main admiring – as "dustbin sniffers strike again".

"Sir Patrick Moore is not even laid to rest yet, but I have just heard that the Sunday Times (yes, them again) have been sneaking around, like the carrion eaters they are, and are now about to 'reveal' all the details they've managed to sniff out about how we, as Patrick's friends, helped him in his latter years, to stay functional in his own home to the very end."

Moore had lived in Farthings since 1967, keeping open house for a procession of visitors from all over the world. He was never wealthy, and his famous programme was made on a shoestring from the start. Farthings' contents include correspondence between Moore and every leading astronomer of his 55 years presenting The Sky at Night, the world's longest-running science programme, scientific instruments, thousands of books and hundreds of thousands of his own astronomical photographs, letters from Buzz Aldrin and other astronauts, his many honorary doctorates, and a case of medals arranged around a glass ruby from a Christmas cracker.