Gloucestershire

Former Bishop of Gloucester cleared after sex assault claims

The Right Rev Michael Perham Image copyright Diocese of Gloucester
Image caption Bishop Michael said he was "immensely heartened" he could return to ministry

The retired Bishop of Gloucester has been cleared for the ministry after an inquiry into alleged sex assaults.

The Right Reverend Michael Perham was questioned by police last year over two allegations of offences dating back three decades.

No action was taken and now the Church of England has ended its own internal inquiry.

"I am glad that the church process has concluded and that the outcome is clear and decisive," said Bishop Perham.

"The Church has to be rigorous in its approach to safeguarding and, as I made absolutely clear from the start, its investigations had to be thorough to leave no doubt about its conclusions."

Even though the Metropolitan Police dropped its inquiry after two months, the Church of England continued with its own investigation.

Bishop Perham stepped back from his duties during the time he later described as "distressing and painful".

He officially retired on 21 November and a special service to celebrate his 10 years as bishop was cancelled.

'Long and testing process'

But now the diocese has announced a service of thanksgiving to mark his "committed and dedicated ministry" will take place in Gloucester Cathedral on 13 June.

"Following a police investigation last year, which resulted in no further action, the matter in relation to Bishop Michael was reviewed by the Church of England in accordance with its national safeguarding policy," a diocesan statement said.

"We are gladdened by today's news from Lambeth Palace that following the completed review and independent risk assessment, Bishop Michael has been cleared to take up ministry in his retirement.

Bishop Perham said he was "immensely heartened" he could now return to ministry and he was looking forward to the cathedral celebration which would bring his time as bishop "to a proper conclusion".

"I have a deep sense of gratitude to all in the Diocese of Gloucester, and beyond, who have supported, encouraged and upheld me, and my family, through a long and testing process," he added.

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