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GREAT BRITAIN: Wirral priest arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children

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Rev Ian Hughes outside St Paul's church in June 2011

An unconventional Wirral vicar known for his facial piercings has been arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

Reverend Ian Hughes, 45, was quizzed by police as word of his arrest spread through his parish in Wallasey.

The Church of England confirmed Rev Hughes was Priest-in-Charge of St Paul's in Seacombe and St Luke's in Poulton, which closed last year.

The congregation moved into the nearby community rooms at Park Primary School on Love Lane and Rev Hughes held service there each Sunday.

There was no answer at his house where he lived for several years in the area and worked to keep the churches from falling into disrepair.

A note on his front door advised visitors on church business to contact the warden of St Paul's in Seacombe.

In 2011, Rev Hughes secured £270,000 of National Lottery Funding to build a new spire of St Paul's and is hoping to have a new St Luke's Church built.

A spokesman for the Church of England Diocese of Chester confirmed his congregation at St Paul's were informed of his arrest.

He said: "The Bishop of Chester suspended the Priest-in-Charge of the parishes in Poulton and Seacombe Ian Hughes immediately we knew of his arrest.

"Full co-operation is now taking place with the police and the authorities. We await outcomes from the current investigation and the workings of the justice system.

"The Church of England takes such matters very seriously.

"In the meantime, a senior priest has agreed to provide ministry and pastoral support for parishioners."

A spokeswoman for Merseyside police said: "We can confirm that a 45-year-old man from Wallasey has been arrested on suspicion of being in possession of indecent images of children.

"He was arrested on Wednesday and was bailed pending further enquiries. Investigations are ongoing."