Vicar banned for inappropriate relationship

PUBLISHED: 17:31 26 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:37 31 May 2010

A VICAR has been banned from Holy Orders for seven years after developing an inappropriate relationship with a parishioner while he was rector of Debden Church. Married rector Andrew Gair, 45, shared kisses and intimate touching with a mum who came to h

A VICAR has been banned from Holy Orders for seven years after developing an inappropriate relationship with a parishioner while he was rector of Debden Church.

Married rector Andrew Gair, 45, shared kisses and "intimate touching" with a mum who came to him for marriage guidance.

A tribunal has found, last week, that the rector, who is also the former padre of Carver Barracks, Wimbish, was guilty of "unbecoming and inappropriate behaviour" after the relationship developed.

The unnamed woman and her husband attended St Mary's Church in 2004 and they both turned to the Rev Gair for counselling when their relationship broke down.

In 2005, the husband was seeing the vicar regularly but his wife would meet separately, when they would enjoy long walks in the countryside.

The woman's husband confronted Rev Gair in October 2005 and told the tribunal that the vicar had admitted becoming intimate with his wife.

The tribunal also heard how the husband said in December 2005 that his wife "admitted kissing the respondent and that they had touched intimately. She said there had not been penetrative sex and that was a material matter in her eyes.

"This had happened many times and that it had occurred in the rectory. She also, allegedly, said that she loved the respondent [the vicar] and that he had expressed his love for her."

Rev Gair, who now lives in Wrentham, near Beccles, denied unbecoming conduct because the affair had not been adulterous.

The tribunal stated: "In our view it is a very serious aggravating factor that while purporting to counsel Mr X [the husband] about his marital difficulties, the respondent was duplicitously engaged in a sexual relationship with Mrs X [the wife].

"As to this the respondent has shown no insight and expressed no remorse."

The Bishop of Chelmsford, The Rt Revd John Gladwin, said: "The Church of England has the highest expectations of those who have the tremendous privilege and responsibility of holding office as Clergy in our parishes. When individuals abuse that position, the Church has to take clear action to show that the behaviour is unacceptable.

"The new Rector of Debden is doing excellent work in the parishes, and has our full support for the work she is doing there to build bridges and bring healing to the people of God in that community.

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