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Inquiry launched into clergyman's 'affair'

The Church of England has launched an inquiry into allegations one of its senior clergymen was having an affair, a diocese said today.

The Very Rev Dr Christopher Hardwick, Dean of Truro Cathedral, has "taken a break" from his duties after revealing he was having "difficulties with his marriage".

The Rt Rev Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro, told his congregation on Sunday about the hiatus, but only learnt of the alleged involvement with farmer's wife Susan Sainsbury "in the last few days".

A spokesman for the Diocese of Truro said: "The dean had shared the news of the difficulties with his marriage, in confidence, with Bishop Tim, prior to the weekend.

"It is only in the past few days that the bishop and the diocese have been made aware of the alleged involvement of another woman.

"The dean confirmed to the bishop that he had been meeting Mrs Sainsbury as part of his pastoral counselling role because, at the time, she herself was going through a divorce process, which we understand is now complete."

The diocese said the Dean is officially still in post, but a date for his return to the church had not been set.

The diocese confirmed the Bishop initiated an inquiry into whether or not there were grounds for proceeding with a more formal disciplinary process within hours of the allegations being made.

The spokesman went on: "Resolving personal issues of this nature can take time and it is difficult to indicate how long the Dean will be away.

"The day-to-day running of the cathedral is carried out by a dedicated and highly skilled team, and the cathedral chapter is well placed to continue the administering function of the cathedral for the foreseeable future.

"As a caring organisation, the diocese has pastoral procedures that are implemented in the event that the marriage of any priest runs into difficulties.

"These have been made available to all the individuals involved in the present situation. The Bishop has asked members of the cathedral congregation and the wider diocese to hold all those involved in their prayers."

Mr Hardwick was the youngest Dean in the country when he took up his post in 2005, aged 47.

Educated at King Edward VI School, Lichfield, he spent 15 years in banking before becoming a church reader in 1987.