Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 17:06 UK

Porn vicar jailed: Church's reaction

Rev Richard Hart
Hart was found with 56,000 child porn images

The Reverend Richard Hart, 59, from Beguildy, near Knighton in Powys, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after admitting possessing more than 56,000 indecent images of children. The Church in Wales has described his crimes as "insidious". Here is its statement in full.

The Church in Wales is deeply saddened and shocked that one of its clerics has committed very serious offences involving the use of indecent images of children. Our thoughts and prayers are with those children affected and with the wider communities in which they live.

Following his conviction, the Reverend Richard Hart was referred to the Church in Wales Disciplinary Tribunal which will meet as a matter of urgency in the coming weeks. Mr Hart will face the charge of conduct giving just cause for scandal or offence. In the meantime, he remains suspended from all clerical duties.

The Church in Wales has appointed counsellors and provided pastoral care in the community. Local clergy have been maintaining the pastoral care and pattern of worship in the parish of Beguildy & Heyope and Llangynllo & Bleddfa and this will continue pending the outcome of the Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mr Hart has also been offered pastoral support during this investigation and we hope this will continue with the prison chaplaincy team.

This was a crime committed despite our stringent child protection policies and procedures. Mr Hart exploited the trust and respect put in him as a cleric by the Church in Wales and by his parishioners and that will have long-term implications. We have cooperated fully with the authorities throughout the inquiry and we are grateful to the police for the sensitive and thorough nature of their investigations.

We hope this sentence today increases awareness of the seriousness of this crime and recognises it for what it is - child abuse. It is a crime all the more insidious because it is hidden - committed alone, secretively and in the home.

There is no place for any form of abuse in the Church in Wales. We give the highest priority to the care and protection of children and vulnerable people in the community. To this end we regularly review our child protection policies and we will also shortly begin examining clergy records which pre-date those policies.

We want to make sure the Church in Wales is a safe place for our children to grow and to be nourished in the Christian faith.

Vicar admits child porn charges
03 Sep 08 |  Mid Wales
Vicar's wife caution over images
06 Jun 08 |  Mid Wales
Vicar in court over child images
29 May 08 |  Mid Wales

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