Vicar Jim Percival and daughter arrested over death of her newborn baby in Lancashire vicarage

A baby boy's death last week is being treated as suspicious by police

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The Independent Online

A vicar and a 28-year-old woman are being held over suspicions of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child.

The Reverend Jim Percival, vicar of Holy Trinity Parish Church in Lancashire village Freckleton, and the woman – who is believed to be his daughter – have been held since Tuesday morning following the death of her baby son in the vicarage.

Police said that they were no longer questioning Percival and the younger woman over an alleged sex offence.

The 64-year-old man’s wife, Susan, 65, is also being questioned on suspicion of conspiring to conceal the birth of a child after emergency services were called to the house a week ago following reports of a stillbirth, Lancashire Police said.

All suspects are currently in custody and questioning was extended by an additional 30 hours yesterday afternoon.

The baby's mother - named locally as Ruth - was initially admitted to Blackpool Victoria Hospital for medical attention after the stillbirth claims. She was then discharged before police launched an investigation.

Post-mortem tests have been carried out to investigate the cause of the baby's death.

A neighbour told Press Association: "It's all a bit of a shock. They are a quiet family. We only know them to say hello. I didn't even know the daughter was pregnant."

Last week, Mr Percival had disappeared and left a suicide note before returning to switch on the village Christmas lights in a public appearance.

Mr Percival, his wife and the woman were taken into custody the following morning.