A POLICE investigation into allegations of sexual assault by a senior Blackburn Cathedral clergyman has ended without any charges.

The accusations of inappropriate touching by Canon Andrew Hindley were made by a woman and a teenage girl in April last year and he was suspended by the Church of England in May.

Now after considering a file from the police, Crown prosecutors have decided there was insufficient evidence for any charges and the investigation has been concluded without further action.

The Lancashire Telegraph understands Canon Hindley, 59, remains suspended from his £26,000-a-year-post as Canon Sacrist at Blackburn Cathedral pending the results of a separate Church of England investigation into the complaints.

The allegations related to a woman and a teenage girl under 16.

Canon Hindley had been off sick for some weeks before his suspension.

Yesterday he said: “I don’t believe it would be appropriate for me to comment at this time.”

A police spokesman told the Lancashire Telegraph: “In April 2018 complaints of sexual assault were made against a 59-year-old man from Blackburn.

“The offences are reported to have been committed in Blackburn in April 2018. There were two female complainants and the allegations related to sexual touching. No-one was arrested but a 59-year-old man was interviewed after voluntarily attending a police station.

“Following a thorough police investigation a file was passed to the Crown Prosecution Service who decided there was insufficient evidence for any charges and that no further action should be taken. We respect that decision.”

The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, said: “The police have made their statement. The Church of England will respect that statement.

“Any suspension would be subject to Church disciplinary procedures which will follow their own course and are independent of any police investigations.

“The burden of probability in criminal investigations is higher than that in Church disciplinary procedures.”

This is the second time Canon Hindley has been suspended from his cathedral post.

In 2007 it emerged he had been temporarily 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’.

He is understood to be on full pay pending the result of the current Church of England inquiry.

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

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

Canon Hindley was one of the forces behind the development of the Cathedral Quarter.

In April 2017 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 Canon Hindley.

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

Canon Hindley’s 14-month suspension in 2006/2007 followed a complaint that was made about comments he allegedly made. The case was withdrawn as a key witness was not able ‘to be called or cross-examined’.

The police spokesman added: “”We take all allegations of a sexual nature extremely seriously and understand how difficult it can be for victims to have the confidence to come forward.

“We would encourage anyone who has experienced sexual abuse, or who has information about it, to have the confidence to report it to us knowing that we will take it seriously, deal with it sensitively and investigate it thoroughly.”