Custom House clergyman Chris Hanson is dead

Churchman dies in hospital just days after he was cleared of abuse claims

A clergyman who had been arrested by police investigating historical claims of abuse has died in hospital.

Friends of the Rev Chris Hanson claim he was innocent of the allegation made against him.

The Rev Hanson, who preached at the Ascension Church in Custom House, had been quizzed by detectives in June and had been on police bail. He was suspended “without prejudice” from his Church of England duties by the Diocese of Chelmsford.

The police had just ended their investigations and had decided to take no further action.

Rev Pat Mossop, Assistant Area Dean for Newham and Team Rector of the Divine Compassion of Plaistow and North Canning Town said: “I did hear that he passed away. It was in hospital. He was ill, very very sick for a long time, the poor man.”

In June, a spokesman for Thames Valley Police said he was arrested in connection with claims of enticing a child to engage in sexual activity. “The investigation was launched following an allegation of an historic offence committed in East Berkshire.” Yesterday they said the case against him had been discontinued and marked for no further action.

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It is understood the Rev Hanson had been suffering from a severe form of arthritis for some time, which caused severe pain to his eyes and had made him lose his sight. He was admitted to Newham General Hospital on Saturday, but died on Sunday.

A spokesman for Chelmsford Diocese said: “We were very sorry to hear that the Rev Chris Hanson died in hospital on Sunday. We are holding his family and parish in our thoughts and prayers.”

Mr Hanson was well known in the community and last year led a successful campaign to prevent the deportation of a young woman who faced death in her native Nigeria. When Cynthia Owie’s daughter fell ill she was allowed to stay while she was treated, but was then told she would have to leave after she died. Her plight was taken up by the Rev Hanson and parishioners.

West Ham MP Lyn Brown who took up her case with Damian Green, the immigration minister. Days before Christmas last year the Home Office has had a change of heart and decided that Cynthia can remain in the country for three years and apply for citizenship.

The Rev Hanson, said he went through a whole raft of emotions when he first heard the news. He said Cynthia was “absolutely jumping for joy. There were tears, there was laughter — it was amazing. “