Christopher Howarth faces what was once known as ‘defrocking’

The Church of England will automatically begin a process that was once known as “defrocking” against the Rev Christopher Howarth.

Mr Howarth was found guilty this afternoon (July 17) at Hove Trial Centre of 26 sexual offences. He admitted two more.

The jury returned not guilty verdicts on five charges. See here and here 

The process of removing Mr Howarth’s right to exercise public ministry is no longer known as “defrocking” but is an automatic process when a CofE priest is convicted of a criminal offence.

Defrocking – properly known as deposition from Holy Orders – was scrapped by the church more than ten years ago and a new disciplinary code for clergy was brought in.

The Church can ban clergy for life but they remain ordained priests. As a result, Mr Howarth cannot be “un-ordained”.

The Daily Telegraph has reported the Church is considering an “about turn to bring back the penalty of defrocking rogue priests in response to a series of child abuse scandals”. See the Daily Telegraph report here

Uckfield Community Technology College

When the court case began at Hove, UCTC published on its website that there was currently an ongoing court case concerning an ex-member of staff.

“Whilst the trial is ongoing, it would not be appropriate for the college to make comment for legal reasons.

“However, at the end of the proceedings it is anticipated that a press release will be provided,” the website stated. has approached the college to ask for a statement.


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