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Two arrested on suspicion of sexual offences at Nine O’Clock Service

26 August 2022


Chris Brain in a video used in the BBC Everyman documentary “Breach of Faith”, broadcast on 26 November 1995

Chris Brain in a video used in the BBC Everyman documentary “Breach of Faith”, broadcast on 26 November 1995

POLICE have arrested two people who were involved with the Nine O’Clock Service (NOS), a rave-culture style Evangelical initiative that attracted scores of young worshippers in Sheffield during the 1980s and 1990s.

South Yorkshire Police confirmed on Thursday that a man and a woman had been arrested on suspicion of sexual offences, alleged to have taken place in Sheffield between 1980 and 1995. They have since been released under investigation pending further inquiries.

At its inception, NOS was lauded as a breakthrough in bringing young people to faith. Lord Carey, then Archbishop of Canterbury, was among senior clerics who supported its blend of Evangelical Christianity, social and environmental campaigns, and rave culture. Its founder, a rock musician, Chris Brain, was fast-tracked for ordination.

But, in 1992, there were protests when dancers in bikinis performed suggestive routines at a Christian festival, and, in 1995, it was shut down when Mr Brain was accused of abuse and exploitation. He has always denied the accusations.

Last summer, police launched a criminal investigation into claims by former NOS members that they had been sexually assaulted. Detectives have since interviewed dozens of people and several have launched civil claims against the diocese of Sheffield. The Church is providing counselling for some former members.

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater & Gordon in Manchester, who represents some of the alleged victims, said: “It is imperative that all allegations arising from the Nine O’Clock Service are thoroughly investigated. My clients are aware of the police investigation and are co-operating fully with it.”

A statement from Sheffield diocese, issued on Thursday, said: “We continue to work with the investigation and won’t be commenting further at this time.” It has promised a further investigation once the legal process is completed.

The Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, said last year that survivors had told of “appalling conduct” (News, 23 July 2021). “We remain committed to working with survivors to address their needs, and to ensuring that the diocese of Sheffield is a safe place,” he said.

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