PARISHIONERS were shocked when they were told the rector of their parish had been suspended due to a police investigation.
The Diocese of Portsmouth has confirmed that the Reverend Simon Sayers, Rector of the Warblington with Emsworth parish, has been suspended.
They would not give any details about what the police investigation relates to.
Parishioners at both St James CoE Church in Emsworth and St Thomas the Beckett Church in Warblington were informed by the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster before services yesterday morning. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Portsmouth said: ‘We are aware of an ongoing police investigation into a serious allegation made against the Rev Simon Sayers.
‘Because the investigation is ongoing, we can make no further comment at the moment.
‘The bishop has suspended the Rev Simon Sayers while the investigation takes place, and is making alternative arrangements for ministry in the parish.
‘Our prayers are with all of those involved in this difficult situation.’
It was confirmed that Mr Sayers has been suspended from all parish duties, but the diocese would not provide any details of the allegation.
Councillor Brendan Gibb-Gray, who lives in Emsworth, was unaware of the investigation but knows Mr Sayers.
He said: ‘He has been a brilliant rector. I know him very well.
‘He is very community minded. I have been a councillor for years and he is always willing to help with charity events at the church.
‘I am really shocked by the news.’
One parishioner who was at the service at St James’ Church yesterday, but did not want to be named, said: ‘The bishop made an announcement to say that the rector is under a police investigation.
‘Everybody was very surprised. He’s very popular. He’s a very good clergyman. He’s done a lot for the church.’
Councillor Richard Galloway, who also serves Emsworth, said: ‘I have attended various things at which he has been present and he’s always seemed to me to be a very good and caring sort of person.
‘I have no knowledge as to what this might entail. He’s very good for the community.
‘It’s fair to say I’m quite surprised and quite shocked really that this might have happened.’
Hampshire police did not respond to calls from The News.