Bishop of Gloucester questioned by police over assault allegations

Bishop Michael Perham speaking in the House of Lords in 2010PARBUL/PA

The Bishop of Gloucester has been interviewed under caution by detectives about allegations of assault from the early 1980s. Both the allegations concerned females, with one being aged under 18.

Bishop Michael Perham was questioned by police in Gloucester. The investigation is being handled by the Metropolitan police's sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse command. He has not been arrested or charged and police said enquiries are continuing.

Last Friday, the diocese said: "For personal reasons, Rt Rev Michael Perham has stepped back from his ministry as the Bishop of Gloucester."

Yesterday the diocese added: "The process is under way to enable the Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Rt Rev Martyn Snow, to take up the duties of the Bishop of Gloucester in his absence. It follows standard procedure set out in church legislation and is a process used on other occasions. It is expected to be formally ratified in the near future. As was stated on Friday, the Rt Rev Michael Perham has stepped back from his role as Bishop of Gloucester."

Then today, the diocese said: "This is a police matter. We have no further comment to make."

Both incidents date from between 1980 and 1981. At the time he was serving his curacy at St Mary's Addington in south London.

The Bishop, who is married with four adult daugters, is highly respected and liked in the Church. He is from the liberal Catholic wing and among many other achievements, helped select the present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. He is particularly well-known for his expertise on liturgy and he helped put together Common Worship, the current service book of the Church of England, in a process that lasted many years.

The Metropolitan Police said a 66-year-old man had attended a police building in Gloucestershire by appointment where he was interviewed under caution on suspicion of indecent assault on a child aged under 18 years; and indecent assault on a second female, aged over 18 years.

Another former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, is facing charges of historic sexual abuse, concerning young males.