Church-goers Support Vicar Banned over 1995 Sexual Acts with Teenager

November 21, 2016

A number of parishioners in Emsworth and Warblington are supporting their vicar who has admitted having 'sexual contact' with a teenager more than 20 years ago.

Simon Sayers, of the Warblington with Emsworth parish, has resigned after church officials ruled he had engaged in conduct unbecoming a clergy person and abused his position of trust in the 1990s. He has been banned from ministry for five years.

The Metropolitan Police arrested the vicar in January 2015 after it was informed of alleged offences that took place in Islington when he was in parish ministry there in 1995. The police investigation led the Church of England to suspend Mr Sayers.

Simon Sayers was the rector of the Warblington with Emsworth parish

In April 2015, police announced they were taking no further action against him.

However, a complaint of sexual misconduct was made to the Church that same month, which prompted it to launch its own investigation in accordance with the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

The Rev Simon Sayers has admitted two sexual incidents with a 16-year-old schoolgirl, and his part in initiating that sexual contact. The Bishop of London – in whose diocese the incidents happened – has found that the Rev Simon Sayers abused his position of trust by engaging in sexual acts with the girl. He engaged in conduct unbecoming a clergy person and inappropriate for a married man.

The Rev Simon Sayers has accepted a penalty from the Bishop of London to be prohibited from ministry for a period of five years. During this time he will be unable to work as a member of clergy in the Church of England and has consequently resigned as Rector of Warblington with Emsworth. The bishop’s penalty reflects both the seriousness of the Rev Simon Sayers’ behaviour on those occasions and of breaching the trust of a young person who had been in his pastoral care for some years.


Those backing Simon Sayers say he is a good man and an excellent vicar Credit: ITV Meridian

But some members of Simon Sayers' congregation feel he has been unfairly treated and say the punishment is disproportionate.

Leslie Grist, said:

“Simon has served this parish and town wonderfully over the last 12 years. He has been kept in limbo for nearly two years. Now he and his family have lost his income and been told to get out of their home within two weeks. It just seems so harsh and unkind. There is real outrage about this here.”

Simon Sayers says he was told by police in 2015 he had 'no case to answer.'

While former local councillor and retired Detective Chief Superintendent, Brendan Gibb-Gray, also expressed his respect for Reverend Sayers, saying:

“I was a district councillor between 2004 and 2016 and came to know and respect Simon for his tremendous love and interest in all things relating to Emsworth Parish and as importantly the wider community here.

“Simply put Simon is a great ambassador for his church and put the wonderful words of Christ into action in this small market town. His ministry will be sadly missed by all.”

In statement, Simon Sayers said he was saddened to announce his resignation which follows what he described as a brief “above the waist” incident of a sexual nature with someone over the age of consent, and a brief kiss two days later, in March 1995.

He added that soon after the incidents he resigned and left that parish in London.

I have always believed that my behaviour in 1995 was wrong and fell below the high standards required of a Christian leader, and I am deeply sorry for the sadness the incident and its investigation has caused.

As a family we have been extremely moved by the depth of love and support which has been shown to us by the wonderful community in which we live.

It has been my greatest privilege to serve this community and especially the churches of Warblington and Emsworth, and I continue to pray for the flourishing of this town, its churches and community life.


Last updated Mon 21 Nov 2016








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