Priest from Gosport struck off for five years for ‘inappropriate’ relationship with ‘vulnerable’ woman he told: ‘Come and have a treat with Father Pete.’

The News [Portsmouth, UK]

January 6, 2023

By Steve Deeks

A PREDATORY priest who was exposed for having an ‘inappropriate’ relationship with a ‘vulnerable’ churchgoer has been struck off for five years.

The victim of Gosport clergyman The Rev Peter Lambert said today that she had felt ‘massively used’ and exploited into having the relationship with the man of the cloth. After he was disciplined following an investigation the woman received a written apology from the Bishop of Portsmouth.

Married Mr Lambert was a self-supporting minister and a volunteer who led services across the town in churches including Christ Church, Holy Trinity Church and St John’s Church.

He was ordained as a priest but was not employed by or paid by the Church of England and had no specific church he was vicar of.

Mr Lambert, a chartered surveyor who has worked at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, struck up a friendship with the woman, who The News is not naming. The mum said it made her ‘feel special’ and ‘wanted’ before they had what she described as an ‘intense’ short-lived relationship last year.

The woman, who suffers from mental health difficulties, told The News: ‘He made me and my kids feel so special and wanted. He bought us gifts and took us to the New Forest for a day trip out.

‘I have anxiety and complex PTSD and go through dark spells and he clearly saw my mental health was low. I’m not the only person it could happen to. People with other conditions might not say anything.

‘I feel he took advantage of me. He had been given power because of the job he does. He would tell me things like “I always thought a lot of you” and “come and have a treat with Father Pete”.’

The victim said in the end ‘reality hit’ and she decided to end the relationship and lodge a complaint. She added: ‘I found it odd for someone with money and his own house and decent job to want to be a priest when he wasn’t paid.’

Following an investigation, Rev Lambert admitted his breach of rules. A spokesperson for the Diocese of Portsmouth said: ‘The Rev Peter Lambert was the subject of a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure.

‘The complaint was of conduct inappropriate for a clergy person.

‘Peter has admitted this inappropriate conduct. The penalty, which was determined by the Bishop of Portsmouth, [the Rt Rev Dr Jonathan Frost], is a five-year prohibition from ministry in the Church of England, from May 2022.

‘This means he is not able to lead church services or act as a clergy person during that time. After this period of prohibition, a risk assessment will be carried out before Peter is able to resume ministry.’

In a letter to the woman, Bishop Jonathan said: ‘I would like to offer my apologies to you, that a member of clergy in the Church of England has behaved in this inappropriate way.’