Father Lawrence Soper of Ealing wanted over sex abuse

Father Lawrence Soper A European Arrest Warrant may now be issued for Father Lawrence Soper's arrest

Police are hunting a former abbot from London over a string of sex offences dating back 20 years.

Father Lawrence Soper, 80, abbot of the Catholic Ealing Abbey from 1991 to 2000, is wanted over child abuse.

The crimes date back to when he taught at St Benedict's School, a private Catholic school at the west London institution.

A European Arrest Warrant may now be issued after the Metropolitan Police said Father Soper did not answer bail.

The suspect is thought to be at a monastery in Rome.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "An 80-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of an historical sexual assault.

"He was bailed to a west London police station to March 2011.

"The man failed to appear and inquiries are being made to trace him."

Failure to co-operate

A message on Ealing Abbey's website from current Abbot Martin Shipperlee said: "Many of you will have read news reports concerning my predecessor.

"Accusations have been made against him concerning offences against children."

It continued: "Early in March he left the monastery in Rome where he had been living to travel to London for an appointment with the police.

"Unfortunately he failed to keep that appointment and 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."

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