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Priest arrested over abuse allegation

Published 25/11/2009

A Catholic priest has been arrested by detectives investigating the alleged sexual abuse of a boy in the 1970s, police have revealed.

Fr Paul Symonds, a curate in Ballymena, Co Antrim, has already been asked to leave his job while the probe into the indecent assault claims is carried out.

The alleged crime was committed against a boy under the age of 16 in the Lancashire area.

Fr Symonds (65), who used to work in England, was arrested in London by officers from the Metropolitan Police Force's Child Abuse Investigation Team.

He was questioned and bailed to return to a west London police station in February. The Met is taking the lead on the inquiry as the alleged victim, who is aged in his forties, now lives in the city.

Last week one of the most senior Catholic Church figures in Northern Ireland, Bishop of Down and Connor Dr Noel Treanor, told Fr Symonds's parishioners he was stepping down.

“The safeguarding and welfare of children is the paramount concern for the diocese. Both the diocese and Fr Symonds are co-operating fully with the investigation and the diocese is liaising with the statutory child safeguarding authorities,” he said.

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From Belfast Telegraph