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Vicar could face a court to decide fate

PUBLISHED: 20:07 21 May 2003 | UPDATED: 13:54 03 March 2010

CHURCH officials in Suffolk could be faced with holding a court hearing to decide the fate of controversial vicar Rev Philip Gray.

Father Gray, vicar of Mendlesham, was asked to go on paid leave as the row over his relationship with the former church organist developed.

CHURCH officials in Suffolk could be faced with holding a court hearing to decide the fate of controversial vicar Rev Philip Gray.

Father Gray, vicar of Mendlesham, was asked to go on paid leave as the row over his relationship with the former church organist developed. As revealed in later editions of yesterday's Evening Star he has refused the request.

It was revealed earlier this month that Father Gray was 99.999 per cent certain to be the father of the five-year-old son of his former organist Belinda Denton-Cardew.

Father Gray has issued a statement denying he ever had an extra-marital affair - and has turned down a request by two bishops to go on leave.

The Bishop of Dunwich, Rt Rev Clive Young and the Bishop of Richborough, Rt Rev Keith Newton suggested Father Gray take a leave of absence.

Father Gray rejected the decision to admit women priests, and his parish is under the care of the Bishop of Richborough, one of three "flying Bishops" set up 1992 to minister to parishes which rejected women's ordination.

It has also emerged that Rev Gray is planning a private prosecution against Mrs Denton-Cardew according to a statement by David Morgan, a retired solicitor action on behalf of the vicar.

Now if there are any further moves concerning the parish they will have to be made through the local diocese.

Church moves against Father Gray to replace him as vicar can only be made in one of two circumstances.

Either six members of his parish would have to write to the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich asking for an investigation into his behaviour - or the bishop would start action himself.

A spokesman for the Diocese said the bishop was not planning to take action because of the legal situation surrounding the allegations.

However if a letter from six parishioners was received, this could spark further action.

Ultimately this could lead to a consistory court being set up to establish the facts - this would be presided over by the chancellor of the diocese, High Court Judge Mr Justice Blofeld.

Diocesan spokesman Nick Clarke said such action was still far away.

"That would be at the end of a very long road, and at the present we haven't even started to go down that road," he said.


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