A FORMER York vicar has been banned for life from practising as a priest after admitting to a ‘close and inappropriate relationship with a person not his spouse’.

The Reverend Martin Baldock, who was Vicar of St Edward the Confessor in Dringhouses from 2000 to 2017, and served as a chaplain at both York College and St Leonard’s Hospice and as rural dean for York, also admitted failing to protect a vulnerable adult.

As well as the church’s ‘penalty of prohibition’ from practising as a priest, he has also lost the honorary title of Canon of York.

The news of his behaviour will be a ‘cause of real shock and distress at St Edward’s, and for others hurt by his actions too,’ said the Bishop of Selby, the Rt Revd Dr John Thomson.

“This is deeply upsetting news for the Parish of Dringhouses, where Mr Baldock was held in respect and affection for 17 years, and where many members of the church and community trusted him with their deepest and sometimes their most sensitive feelings and experiences,” he said.

“The Church of England expects the very highest standards of conduct from its clergy in both their personal and their professional relationships, and in this case those relationships have gone wrong. The individuals most closely involved in this situation, and the people of Dringhouses Parish and at St Edwards are in my prayers, as they and their Vicar, Richard Carew, come to terms with this news while they work and pray to rebuild the community of love and trust that has always been at the heart of this parish.”

The Diocese of York said Mr Baldock, who now lived in retirement in the Midlands, had been subject to proceedings in 2019 under the Church of England’s Clergy Discipline Measure, and admitted two counts of misconduct while in his post in York - ‘conducting a close and inappropriate relationship with a person not his spouse over a sustained period’ and ‘failing to protect a vulnerable adult through not having due regard to the Church of England’s safeguarding regulations’.

It said: “He accepted the penalty of prohibition from practising as a priest in the Church of England for life, imposed by the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, the Rt Revd Paul Williams.

“The Diocese of York is not aware of any other issues concerning Martin Baldock’s years in Dringhouses; but anybody with any safeguarding concerns at this or any other church in the Diocese of York should contact the police, the relevant archdeacon or the Diocesan Safeguarding Team (safeguarding@yorkdiocese.org) as soon as possible.”

It added that he was conferred with the honorary title of Canon of York in 2017 before the concerns had been raised, and the title had now been withdrawn, and the diocese would be making no further comment to protect the identities of those involved.

When Mr Baldock retired in 2017, aged 65, The Press reported how he had left his church in great shape, with a refurbished church hall serving as a hub for Dringhouses and the congregation increased from 120 to 150.

The Press sought to contact Mr Baldock for comment, without success.