AN ANGLICAN priest, the Revd Meirion Griffiths, has been extradited from Australia on charges of historic sexual abuse.
Mr Griffiths, of Coachwood Way, Maddington, Perth, was arrested and charged in Perth in November 2017. He appealed against extradition on the grounds of health and age, but was unsuccessful. He arrived at Heathrow in the early hours of Thursday and appeared at Crawley Magistrates Court, where he entered a plea of not guilty. There was no application for bail, and he has been remanded in custody.
A news release from Sussex Police on Thursday said that he had been charged on an extradition warrant issued by Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London in December 2016. “The warrant alleges that he committed several indecent assaults against a girl then in her late teens in the mid-1970s, and several indecent assaults against a woman then in her mid-twenties in 1982. All the offences are alleged to have taken place at various locations in West Sussex.”
He is believed to be the first Anglican priest to be extradited on historic sexual charges. The only other priest known to have been extradited was Laurence Soper, a former Roman Catholic priest, who jumped bail and spent five years in Kosovo. He was returned to the UK in 2017 and is currently serving 18 years in prison for sexual offences against schoolboys in Ealing.
Mr Griffiths, who is 80, was ordained in 1966. He served curacies in north London, Taunton, and Radipole (Salisbury diocese), before becoming Rector of St Pancras and St John, Chichester, from 1974 to 1982 (when the offences are alleged to have taken place). He then moved to Wales, serving as Rector of Corwen and Llangar, and Rural Dean of Edeyrnion (St Asaph diocese) from 1982 to 1988.
In 1988, he moved to Australia, where he was Assistant Curate of Albany, Rector of Collie, and then Priest-in-Charge of Maddington. He retired in 2000.
Mr Griffiths is to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court on 1 March.