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Dead man believed to be Hampshire priest under police investigation

31 July 2017


Vicarage death: Holy Trinity, Hawley, in Hampshire

Vicarage death: Holy Trinity, Hawley, in Hampshire

A MAN believed to be the Vicar of Hawley and Minley, in Hampshire, Canon Martyn Neale, was found dead in the Vicarage last Tuesday, amid unconfirmed reports that he had set fire to himself.

A statement from the diocese of Guildford confirmed that Canon Neale, 60, had been suspended pending an investigation by Hampshire Police. He was recently elected a member of the General Synod of the Church of England, and attended his first sessions in York, last month. He was also a prominent council member of Forward in Faith. He had been made a Canon of Guildford Cathedral in 2010.

“We were very sorry to be informed by police late on Tuesday of the death of a man at the Rectory in Hawley, believed to be Fr Martyn Neale,” the statement said on Monday. “Fr Neale had been suspended last week as a consequence of an ongoing police investigation.

“The diocese of Guildford is giving pastoral support in the parish, and representatives were in attendance at Sunday morning services to speak to parishioners. We continue to pray for all those who are affected by these tragic events.”

The congregation of Holy Trinity, Hawley, had been informed of the suspension two weeks ago, a note on safeguarding included in the church notices on Sunday, suggested. Though the notice did not give details of the announcement, it requested that the congregation “be mindful of conversations which take place in the wider community” and refer any press enquiries to the diocese of Guildford’s communications team.

Hampshire Police said in a statement that the death “was not being treated as suspicious” and that a file was being prepared for the coroner. “We were called at 4.32 pm on Tuesday 25 July to reports of a body found at an address on Fernhill Road, Blackwater. Officers attended the scene and the body of a 60-year-old man was found.”

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