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Priest arrested over sex claims

1 February 08 06:36 GMT

The former head of an independent Catholic school in west London has been arrested following allegations of sexual assault.

Father David Pearce, who retired from St Benedict's School in Ealing 15 years ago, was arrested at his home in Ealing Abbey after claims by a current pupil.

Ealing Abbey founded the school in 1902 and monks act as trustees.

Fr Pearce was interviewed by officers before being bailed to return to a west London police station in May.

Famous alumni

The police's child abuse investigation team is looking into the allegations.

A police spokesman said: "We can confirm that police received allegations on 15th January of sexual assault.

"The allegations relate to incidents between 2006 and 2007."

Fr Pearce was head of the junior school before he retired.

School authorities insisted that they acted promptly when they learned of the accusations.

He added: "As soon as the principals of the school were made aware of the allegations, they put them in the hands of the authorities," said the school's solicitor Tony Nelson.

"The school has behaved impeccably."

The school admits pupils aged 4 to 18 and has a mixed sixth form.

Famous alumni include the former governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten and the comedian Julian Clary.

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