DETECTIVES at the Metropolitan Police are investigating a serious allegation made against the rector of a parish.
Hampshire Constabulary confirmed it was not leading the inquiries into the Rev Simon Sayers, rector of the Warblington with Emsworth parish, and that the capital’s force was heading the investigation.
Officials at the Metropolitan Police refused to give any details of the investigation when contacted by The News last night.
Parishioners at both St James CoE Church in Emsworth and St Thomas a Becket Church in Warblington were informed by the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, before services on Sunday.
No further details have been provided by church leaders about what the allegation is.
People in Emsworth were still in shock yesterday as Mr Sayers is very popular and well-respected.
Over the years he has helped with St George’s Day events, the Christmas lights switch-on and the recent foodbank event.
Emsworth councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray, a former Detective Chief Superintendent in the Metropolitan police, said: ‘My feelings at the moment are very much for him.
‘I just hope the Anglican church is looking after him.
‘Men in these circumstances are very vulnerable. It’s an awful situation, given that he’s so well-known.
‘He’s the rector of two parishes here in Emsworth. I think everyone is really shocked by it.
‘We don’t know what the basis of the allegations is. This could go on for some time. Let’s hope they clear it up quickly.
‘He’s so well-known in Emsworth, Warblington and Havant that it’s devastating for him and his family and of course for everyone who knows and loves him.’
Jo Dyer, chairwoman of Emsworth Residents’ Association, said no-one she had spoken to had seen Mr Sayers in the town since the announcement.
She said: ‘I can hardly believe it.
‘I find it hard to believe.
‘He was such a wonderful community person and did so much good work in Emsworth.
‘If he does not come back, it would be a great loss to us. We don’t know what the allegation is.’
The bishop is making alternative arrangements for ministry in the parish.