Accused priest planning to sue

A VICAR accused of fathering a child with a church organist is preparing a private prosecution against the woman making the claim his solicitor said.The Rev Philip Gray, 61, has also vowed to remain in his position as priest at St Mary's Church in Mendlesham, near Stowmarket, and has declined to take paid voluntary leave.

A VICAR accused of fathering a child with a church organist is preparing a private prosecution against the woman making the claim his solicitor said.

The Rev Philip Gray, 61, has also vowed to remain in his position as priest at St Mary's Church in Mendlesham, near Stowmarket, and has declined to take paid voluntary leave.

The EADT exclusively revealed ten days ago how Belinda Denton-Cardew went through the courts to prove Father Gray was the father of her son Benjamin, who was born at Ipswich Hospital on September 6, 1997.

A paternity test in 1999 gave a 99.999% positive match that Mr Gray was the father of Benjamin, now aged five, and a birth certificate was issued naming him as the father.


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He has also been ordered to pay child maintenance for the child's upbringing.

But Mr Gray a father-of-five who has been married for 29 years to wife Anne, has maintained there is another explanation for what happened, and has said he has the support of the diocese.

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A statement issued by David Morgan, a retired solicitor acting on his behalf, last nightsaid: "In view of the extensive reports in the press of allegations made by Mrs Denton Cardew this statement is issued on record of fact that there is no truth whatever in claims that there has been an extra-marital affair between Mrs Denton-Cardew and the Rev Philip Gray.

"The Rev Philip Gray had understood that the police were to prosecute Mrs Denton-Cardew and he has still received no communication from them to explain the basis of the decision apparently taken not to prosecute after all.

"When that position has been clarified the Rev Philip Gray is preparing for a private prosecution so that at last the truth can emerge.

"Until that has been done, the Gray family has been advised against making any statements for fear that this might prejudice the court case.

"The Gray family has been harassed unceasingly by the media for 12 days at a time of important exams and makes a plea to be left in peace."

Father Gray has met with the Bishop of Dunwich, the Rt Revd Clive Young, and the Bishop of Richborough, the Rt Revd Keith Newton to discuss the situation.

A statement issued on behalf of Bishop Clive said yesterday: "In response to a letter from Bishop Clive to Father Gray, inviting him to take paid voluntary leave, Father Gray declined and indicated his intention of continuing with his parish duties.

"The Bishops remain concerned for all involved, and are praying along with many others for this unhappy situation to be resolved. They wish to see the truth established and justice done.

"They understand that Father Gray has issued a personal statement through his solicitor, and can make no further comment on it."

Mr Gray made his first public comment about the dispute with divorced mother-of-three Mrs Denton-Cardew, 48, a former teacher at Mendlesham Primary School, in a statement to his congregation last week.

"Many of you will have heard the serious allegations about me. There is another explanation however, I have a clear conscience and the backing of the diocese and provincial bishops," he told worshippers.

"After consultation with them, I had their assurance my priesthood is not in jeopardy nor my care of this church."

The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich remains concerned about the issues raised and wants the dispute resolved.

The Rt Revd Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, met Mr Gray in 1999 and 2000 to discuss allegations made by Mr Gray against his former organist.

"At the first meeting, the option of Father Gray stepping aside while allegations were investigated was discussed. Father Gray declined this invitation," a first statement said.

"Bishop Richard is concerned about the situation, but is bound by ecclesiastical law. He has been advised that legal grounds have not been substantiated entitling him to act in, what remains, at present, a private matter."

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