Cleric facing historical sex assault allegation arrested in Kosovo


A Catholic cleric accused of a historical sex offence has been arrested in Kosovo after a five-year police hunt.

Father Laurence Soper, in his mid-70s, was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant over an allegation of child abuse dating back to when he taught at St Benedict's, a private independent Catholic school which is part of Ealing Abbey in west London.

In March 2011, Soper was believed to have been living in a monastery in Rome and was due to return to London to answer bail, but he failed to show up, sparking an international search.

After more than five years evading officials, he was arrested in Kosovo on Wednesday.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "We are aware of the arrest and we are liaising with the relevant authorities."

In June 2010 the Met said a man, then in his 40s, had made a historical allegation of sexual assault relating to his time at the school.

Soper was arrested in September that year on suspicion of historical sexual assault, and bailed to return to a west London police station pending further inquiries, but failed to appear.

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