A FORMER rector of Ribchester has been suspended after a formal complaint of misconduct was made against him.
Canon Andrew Hindley of Blackburn Cathedral is believed to be the highest ranking clergyman in the Church of England to have been suspended under rules on clergy discipline which were introduced in last year.
It is understood the popular clergyman was suspended several weeks ago, though the matter has only recently become known outside church circles.
Canon Hindley, who has responsibility over planning services and working with the choir, said it was not a criminal matter and vowed to clear his name.
He said it was "about something that has been said not something that has been done."
The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Nicholas Reade, said: "A complaint has been lodged against Canon Hindley under the Clergy Disciplinary Measure 2003, and Canon Hindley has been suspended while the matter is examined by the designated officer."
Canon Hindley was rector of St Wilfrid, Ribchester and St Saviour, Stydd from 1991 to 1996. For the same period he was also the Bishop of Blackburn's adviser on leisure and tourism.
Before working in Ribchester he was a curate in Huddersfield and a vicar in Wakefield.
He has been a senior Canon at Blackburn Cathedral since 1996.
A spokesman for the Diocese of Blackburn said under church rules that an investigation is being carried out by a London-based church civil servant. It is not known when the investigation will be complete.
The News understands that a number of the choir and congregation members at Blackburn Cathedral have given Canon Hindley their backing - by wearing badges of St Andrew, the patron saint of singers and performers, during services as a mark of support for him.