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New Ashton-on-Mersey priest arrested over child sex allegations
AN Ashton-on-Mersey priest is being investigated by police for child sex offences less than two months after being appointed.
The Reverend Iain Mossley, 40, who is married with three children, has been suspended by Chester Diocese.
He gave his first sermon at the Parish Church of St Martin on January 20 and was formally the priest at the Parish of St James, Leyland, where he stayed for more than four years.
Members of the congregations at St Martin’s, on Church Lane, were told of Mr Mossley’s suspension during Sunday service on March 10.
A statement read out in church said the suspension for ‘certain offences’ is a ‘strictly neutral act, in everyone’s best interests and implies no censure or guilt’.
A police spokesman said: “On Tuesday 5 March 2013, officers arrested a 40-year-old man on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity in the Ashton-upon-Mersey area.
“He has been bailed until 20 May 2013 and inquiries are ongoing.”
A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester said: “Full co-operation is now taking place with the police and the authorities.
“The role of priest at parish of St Martin’s, Ashton-on-Mersey is currently being provided by other clergy.
“The individual at the centre of these allegations is now suspended from Christian ministry.
“We await outcomes from the current investigation and the workings of the justice system.”
Dignitaries including Graham Brady MP and the Bishop of Chester, the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster, attended the welcome service for Mr Mossley in January.
Shortly after being appointed, Mr Mossley told Messenger that he was looking forward to undertaking his new role.
He said: “St Martin’s has a high church tradition which doesn’t just mean traditional hymns and music. Modern hymns can fit in, too. It’s more about how we present our worship.
“I never change anything without explaining why. First of all I want to get to know people.”