sussex police
Sussex Police arrested two retired police on suspicion of child sexual assaults, one being Canon Gordon Rideout (inset), dating back 40 years (Reuters/

Two retired Church of England priests in East Sussex have been arrested over allegations of child sex abuse going back to the 1960s.

Canon Gordon Rideout, 73, was arrested in Eastbourne on suspicion of sexual assaults committed against nine young people in Crawley in West Sussex, Barkingside in North East London, and Middle Wallop in Hampshire, between 1965 and 1972.

Parish priest Robert Coles, 70, was also arrested in Eastbourne on suspicion of sexual assaults against three young men in West Sussex during the late 1970's and mid-1980's.

Police treating the two arrests as separate enquiries.

They come after a six month investigation by Sussex Police's child protection detectives.

An investigation was launched after police and the Diocese of Chichester receieved a secret report by Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss into historic allegations of child sexual abuse by Church of England priests.

"The offences were allegedly committed at different times and in different places from each other," Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes said.

"The re-investigation of these cases has taken six months. This is a very complex enquiry, in the course of which many people, all now adults, have had to be traced, together with other witnesses and records from a wide variety of sources.

"There are no allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk."

He added that the Diocese of Chichester are fully co-operating with police.

"Although the cases referred to are still under police investigation, Sussex Police make it clear that the force will always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending, and every possible step will be taken to investigate whenever appropriate," he said.