A SENIOR Blackburn Cathedral clergyman has been suspended by the Church of England and interviewed by the police over allegations of sexual assault.

Canon Andrew Hindley was relieved of his duties early last month over allegations in relation to a woman and a teenage girl under 16.

He had previously been off sick for some weeks.

It is the second time the 59-year-old has been suspended from his £26,000-a-year post.

In 2007 it emerged Canon Hindley had been relieved of his duties following a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003.

In July that year the misconduct allegation was dropped.

Canon Hindley later described the 14-month process as ‘horrendous’.

But this week, after the Lancashire Telegraph made a series of specific enquiries about Canon Hindley’s suspension following an anonymous tip-off, a spokesman for Blackburn Cathedral said: “We can confirm a member of Blackburn Cathedral staff has been suspended from their duties.

“This suspension is a neutral act pending further investigation of a matter which has arisen.

“The individual has been suspended since early May.

“We will not be commenting any further at this time.”

After similar questions naming Canon Hindley, a police spokesman said yesterday: “A 59-year-old man from Blackburn was voluntarily interviewed following two allegations of sexual assault.

“The allegations of sexual touching involve two female victims, a woman and a teenage girl under 16.

“The man attended by prior appointment and was not arrested.

“He was interviewed under caution.”

Canon Hindley was unavailable for comment yesterday.

A statement regarding the suspension is due to be made to the congregations at Blackburn Cathedral services tomorrow.

Canon Hindley has been suspended this time under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 as amended by the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016.

He is understood to be on full pay pending the result of the investigation.

Ordained in 1982, he was rector of St Wilfrid’s, Ribchester, before being appointed as Canon Sacrist at Blackburn Cathedral in 1996.

He has responsibility for planning its services, choral and other music and looking after its precious objects.

Canon Hindley was also one of the forces behind the development of the Cathedral Quarter. In April last year a 24-year-old man was banned from the Cathedral after being convicted in his absence of riotous, violent or indecent behaviour in a church, chapel or churchyard after being abusive and aggressive towards towards Canon Hindley.

In 1998 the priest was assaulted by two men in an attack in Manchester as he took money from a cash machine.

The Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 is intended to provide a ‘structure for dealing efficiently and fairly with formal complaints of misconduct against members of the clergy’.

There are four grounds for misconduct: acting in breach of ecclesiastical law; failing to do something which should have been done under ecclesiastical law; neglecting to perform the duties of a person’s church office; and engaging in conduct that is unbecoming to that office.

The Rt Rev Philip North, the Bishop of Burnley, said: “I have no comment to make beyond what the Diocesan spokesman has said.”

The Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, Dean of Blackburn, declined to comment.