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Accused UK priest held in Kosovo

Do Not UseDo Not Use 15/05/2016

A British former Catholic priest wanted over child sex abuse allegations has been arrested in Kosovo, local police sources say.

Lawrence Soper was being hunted over sex offences allegedly committed at St Benedict's School in Ealing where he taught in the 1970s and 80s.

He was arrested in 2010 and bailed, but failed to return to a London police station in March 2011.

A European Arrest Warrant was issued for him in 2012.

After teaching at St Benedict's, Mr Soper became abbot of Ealing Abbey, which had founded the school and supplied monks to teach there.

Police in Kosovo's capital Pristina confirmed to the BBC local reports that he had been arrested in Pec, in the west of the country, on Thursday.

A senior official, speaking anonymously, told the BBC that the extradition process was under way to return him to the UK.

'Known as Andrew'

Police in London said: "The Metropolitan Police is aware of an arrest and is currently in liaison with the relevant authorities."

A Foreign Office spokesman told the Press Association: "Our embassy is providing assistance following the arrest of a British national in Peja, Kosovo, on Wednesday 11 May."

In June 2010, a man then in his 40s made an allegation of sexual assault at St Benedict's School in Ealing, west London, that was also attended by actor Andy Serkis and comedian Julian Clary.

Mr Soper was questioned three months later. London's Metropolitan Police obtained a European Arrest Warrant in September 2012 after he failed to answer bail.

Police said at the time that they believed Mr Soper had been living in Italy.

Kosovo's Insajderi newspaper said Mr Soper had been living under the name Andrew, and had lived in Pec for several years. He is believed to be in his mid-70s.

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