A vicar dubbed the ‘randy reverend’ has been defrocked for forging the Bishop of Durham’s signature in an alleged insurance fraud.
David Huntley, 54, was suspended for two years in 2016 after he had an affair with 28-year-old barmaid Charlene Goudie, a member of his congregation.
He has now been sacked for faking a letter to insurers MMS in a false redundancy claim, a church court heard. He even used the bishop’s official headed paper.
The disciplinary tribunal described this as “grave, indeed criminal, misconduct” in its ruling; adding: “It fell very far short of the high standard of behaviour expected of clergy.
“The claim was fraudulent and in making it, the respondent acted deliberately, deceitfully and dishonestly.”
Mr. Huntley ‘was probably’ guilty of fraud, contrary to the Fraud Act 2006, the panel added.
The vicar caused scandal among his congregation at St Lawrence the Martyr Church in South Shields, South Tyneside, when he had an unplanned pregnancy with Miss Goudie.
She and Mr. Huntley were caught together late at night by the father of her two other children, Kevin Scott.
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He thumped the vicar and stormed out, leaving the new couple to sleep together for the first time, a church court was told.
At the time, Miss Goudie hit out at criticism, saying they were ‘madly in love’ and that it was ‘what God intended.’
Now, more serious allegations have emerged of fraud relating to an income protection policy that Mr. Huntley, who is divorced and has a grown-up child, took out in May 2015.
After he was suspended for sex outside marriage, he was evicted from the vicarage and received a letter signed by the Bishop of Durham dated April 21, 2016, which made clear the terms of his suspension.
But two months later, Mr. Huntley tried to claim from his insurers, saying he was unemployed due to ‘re-organisation leading to redundancy of post.’ He lied because his insurance policy did not pay out if unemployment was caused by dismissal due to misconduct, the Bishop’s Disciplinary Tribunal for the Diocese of Durham was told.
In his claim, Mr. Huntley included a letter apparently from the bishop as evidence, which talked of the ‘reorganisation of parishes.’
It was written on the bishop’s official headed notepaper and appeared to bear his personal signature. Four days later, the insurers contacted the Diocese office to ask for more information, at which point Mr. Huntley’s deceit was uncovered.
The tribunal, which sat for its final hearing last month in Mr. Huntley’s absence, considered the evidence ‘overwhelming.’ It said there was a ‘high degree of deceit’ and he had offered no explanation and no apology.
The tribunal was unanimous in imposing prohibition for life, adding that there was ‘little realistic possibility of his ever being able to resume the normal duties of ministry.’
When the offences were reported to Durham Police, they said it was a ‘civil matter’ and they would not be taking action, a decision which ‘surprised’ the church panel.
Mr. Huntley, who was ordained as a priest in 2008, and Miss Goudie had their child in October 2015 and it is believed they are still together.
Last night Miss Goudie declined to comment, and Mr. Huntley could not be reached.