A RECTOR will not be able to return to his ministry while the church examines allegations made against him.
The Diocese of Portsmouth is carrying out its own inquiry before it will make a decision about the return of the Rev Simon Sayers.
Mr Sayers was suspended from his position at St James CoE Church in Emsworth and St Thomas a Becket in Warblington following his arrest by the Metropolitan Police in January.
The allegation against the 55-year-old was of indecent assault dating back to the early 1990s in Islington, north London.
But last week, as he returned bail, the Metropolitan Police confirmed it was releasing him without charge and no further action would be taken.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Portsmouth said: ‘We understand that the police investigation into the Rev Simon Sayers, rector of St James, Emsworth, and St Thomas a Becket, Warblington, has been dropped.
‘When he was arrested in January, he was suspended from all parish duties by the bishop, in line with Church of England policy, while the investigation took place. Now that the police investigation is complete, the Diocese of Portsmouth needs to examine the details of the allegations for itself in order to determine the best way forward for Simon’s ministry and the parish.’
Mr Sayers was contacted by The News following the police decision not to prosecute him, and said the support for his family had been cheering.
He said: ‘We have been overwhelmed by the love and support we have received from our church and our community.’
Community leaders in Emsworth said they were keen to get Mr Sayers back in his post as quickly as possible.
Other clergy members have stepped in while he has been away.
Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray, a former Metropolitan police detective and friend of Mr Sayers, said: ‘Obviously I hope that as a result of the police investigation he has been totally vindicated.
‘I feel it’s now trial by church.
‘I understand they have got to look at the circumstances.
‘But they would have had the information from the police from the time the police questioned Simon.
‘I just hope whatever they do, they do it quickly and Simon is able to get back to his ministry.
‘I hope this is quick and he’s able to resume his ministry but also his personal life. He’s still got this hanging over him.’
Over the years Mr Sayers has helped with St George’s Day events and the Christmas lights switch-on.
Cllr Gibb-Gray said: ‘Everyone in Emsworth is totally behind him, supports him and believes he’s the right priest for St James’.
‘He’s been an essential part of Emsworth for 12, 14 years and we want him back quickly.’