POLICE have launched a manhunt to track down a former Catholic priest accused of historic child abuse after he skipped bail.
Father Laurence Soper, a former abbot of Ealing Abbey, in Charlbury Grove, Ealing, from 1991 to 2000, is wanted for questioning over allegations of child abuse related to his time as a teacher at the school attached to the abbey, St Benedict's.
It is believed Mr Soper left a monastery in Rome in March to travel to London to meet police, as per his police bail conditions, but he has not been sighted since.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "An 80-year-old man was arrested on September 22 on suspicion of historic sexual assault.
"He was bailed to a west London police station to return in March 2011. The man failed to appear and inquiries are being made to trace him."
A message from Abbot Martin Shipperlee on the abbey's website today (14) condemns Mr Soper's lack of co-operation.
It read: "We have heard nothing from him since and all efforts to contact him have been without success."I cannot comment on the details of the police investigation but I must condemn without reservation his failure to co-operate with them."