A vicar in the Church of England’s diocese of Guildford is believed to have killed himself after being suspended pending a police investigation. The diocese gave no details of the allegations against the Revd Martyn Neale, Rector of Hawley and Vicar of Minley, but confirmed that he “had been suspended last week as a consequence of an ongoing police investigation.”
“We were very sorry to be informed by police late on Tuesday [25 July] of the death of a man at the Rectory in Hawley, believed to be Father Martyn Neale,” a diocesan spokesperson said in a statement.
“The Diocese of Guildford is giving pastoral support in the parish, and representatives were in attendance at Sunday morning services to speak to parishioners. We continue to pray for all those who are affected by these tragic events.”
Neale was a member of the traditionalist Anglo-Catholic group Forward in Faith. In 2015 he was made an honorary Canon of Guildford Cathedral. And earlier this year he became a member of the C of E’s General Synod – attending his first meeting earlier this month in York.
The Revd Canon Simon Butler, prolocutor of the lower house of the Convocation of Canterbury (chair of the House of Clergy for the province of Canterbury) described the reports as “dreadful news”. Writing on Facebook, he added: “I only had one conversation with him at Synod but he was a thoughtful, caring man. May he rest in peace.”
A spokesperson for Hampshire Police told local media that that “Officers attended the scene and the body of a 60-year-old man was found. The death is not being treated as suspicious and a file is being prepared for the coroner.”
An inquest is expected to open this week.