Chichester priest extradited from Australia to stand trial on abuse charges

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St Pancras & St John, Chichester

The former rector of St Pancras and St John parish in Chichester has been extradited from Australia to answer charges of sexually abusing a young woman. Accompanied by detectives, the Rev. Meirion Griffiths (80) returned to the UK this week from Australia.

In a statement issued on 31 January 2019 the Sussex Police said:

“Meirion Griffiths, 80, of Coachwood Way, Maddington, Perth, Western Australia, appeared in custody at Crawley magistrates’ court on Thursday 31 January, 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-1970’s, 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 pleaded not guilty and was remanded in custody to appear at Portsmouth Crown Court on 1 March.”

Mr Griffiths was ordained in the Church of England in 1966 and served curacies in north London, Taunton, and Radipole (Salisbury diocese), before becoming Rector of St Pancras and St John in 1974. In 1982 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 (Perth diocese). He retired in 2000.

The Sussex police statement said allegations against Mr. Griffiths were received in 2014, and following an investigation a  warrant for his arrest was issued in December 2016. Mr. Griffiths was arrested by Western Australia police on the UK warrant in November 2017, and has fought extradition in the Perth courts.

The police stated that throughout their investigation, they had “full co-operation from the Chichester Diocese of the Church of England.”

The police statement noted there were no “current safeguarding issues or risks for anyone connected to St Pancras church.”