A MOSQUE said it 'immediately suspended' a leading religious teacher arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Ashraf Sidat, 45, from Blackburn, had been suspended from Masjide Noorul Islam, Audley Range, pending an investigation.

He has now also been suspended from The Islamic Educational Society, of which the mosque is a part of.

The Islamic Educational Society said it took the allegations 'extremely seriously.'

They said they are now 'working closely with the local authorities and the police in assisting them in their enquiries.'

It comes after police were called to Roedean Gardens at 9.50am on Thursday to a report of child grooming.

Officers attended and a 45-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was taken into custody for questioning and bailed until February 9, 2018, pending further enquiries.

The arrest comes after Mr Sidat was stopped in the street by members of Justice Will Be Served, a self-styled vigilante group who passed information to police.

A spokesman for the Islamic Educational Society said: “Following allegations about one of our staff behaving inappropriately with an underage person, the Islamic Educational Society immediately suspended the individual from his role at our organisation.

"As a faith organisation, we expect high standards of behaviour and conduct from all of our staff while on and off our premises and take robust action when staff fail to meet the standards expected of them.

“Though these allegations did not take place at any of our buildings or sites, or involve any of the young people that we work with, we take them extremely seriously and are now working closely with the local authorities and the police in assisting them in their enquiries.

"We are also carrying out our own full internal safeguarding review to ensure no safeguarding practices have been breached.

"The said individual is not an imam at our mosque but worked for us in an educational capacity.

"Members of the public can be reassured that he will remain suspended while we await the outcome of these investigations.

"We have robust safeguarding policies, procedures and practices in place to ensure all of our staff are suitably DBS cleared and have undergone regular safeguarding training.

"With this now being a police matter and pending the outcome of these enquiries, it would be inappropriate to comment any further.”

A statement released by Hassan E Karolia, trustee and chairman of Masjide Noorul Islam, said: “Regarding the recent incident involving Mr Ashraf Sidat we have suspended him from all duties at the Islamic Educational Society.

“I am working with my management team and the authorities who are conducting the investigation. I am also making arrangements for the overall management of the Madressa whilst the investigation is carried out.

“Please note as the investigation is now in progress I cannot give you any further information.

“We are working closely with the authorities. In the meantime, please be reassured that your child’s teachers will continue to provide the best possible education in a safe and happy environment.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 quoting reference number 433 of 11/01/18 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.