POLICE are still searching for a former clergyman from Ealing Abbey who is wanted in connection with child sex abuse claims but has skipped bail.

Laurence Soper, 80, is wanted to answer questions about offences said to have been committed during his time as a teacher at St Benedict’s School, part of Ealing Abbey, from 1972 -84. No charge has yet been laid against him.

Father Soper was the Abbot of Ealing from 1991-2000. He also served as a part-time prison chaplain at Feltham Young Offenders institute. A European arrest warrant is due to be issued for him as he is thought to be in Italy.

It is the latest blow to hit the abbey and school.

In 2009 David Pearce, a former head teacher at St Benedict’s, was jailed for eight years for child sex offences.

In 2007, Father Stanislaus Hobbs was tried but acquitted of child sex offences alleged to have taken place while he was a teacher at the school.

Head teacher Christopher Cleugh wrote to parents last week informing them of the latest development.

He said he was aware that Father Soper had failed to attend a hearing and had been told by police not to make a public statement.

The current head of Ealing Abbey, Abbot Martin Shipperlee, has now gone on record to condemn Father Soper’s failure to help with the investigation.

“I cannot comment on the details of the police investigation, but I must condemn without reservation his failure to co-operate with them,” he said.

Jonathan West, the father of a former pupil at St Benedict’s, set up a blog to highlight what he sees as the school’s failure to improve the safety of children.

The task of finding Father Soper and returning him to the UK will be more difficult if he has sought refuge in Vatican City as there is no extradition treaty between the states.