The vicar was filmed apparently smoking crack and snorting cocaine while watching pornography.
London – The Church of England is investigating after a vicar was filmed apparently smoking from a crack pipe and snorting cocaine while watching pornography.
The scenes took place in the £1.5 million vicarage of the Rev Stennett Kirby, the 64-year-old vicar of All Saints, West Ham Parish Church in East London.
In the footage, Kirby also talks about wanting to hire a female escort and a trip to sex shops in Soho to buy liquid chemical poppers, which give users a head rush.
Worshippers at the church, where Mr Kirby has been vicar since 2007, were told about the situation during yesterday morning’s service by associate minister Rev Stephen Chandler.
A Church of England spokesman said the matter was being taken ‘very seriously’.
In the footage, obtained by The Sun on Sunday newspaper, Mr Kirby is seen taking the highly addictive class A drug while relaxing on a sofa with a friend as music blares in the background.
He says: ‘I love it, I love it … I feel really good now. Best feeling ever.’
In another clip, he is seen struggling to ingest cocaine off a coffee table. He says: ‘Most of it is left, it happens every time.’ He then places cocaine directly into his nose.
Later on, the reverend and his friend are filmed staring at a TV and watching pornography. He makes a lewd reference, adding: ‘It f****** turns me on when I have this and watch that.’
He then asks: ‘How much would it cost for a woman to come here? In other words, if I really want it I will pay for it.’
His friend later asks him: ‘Shall I make you a cocaine spliff?’ Mr Kirby replies: ‘If you don’t mind.’
Kirby, whose home is owned by the Diocese of Chelmsford, then goes on to explain that he is planning on visiting Soho sex shops to buy poppers, drugs commonly used to enhance sexual pleasure. Possession is legal.
He says: ‘I’m going to Soho with my mate for dinner. I’m going to sex shops to get some poppers.’
At yesterday morning’s service associate minister Mr Chandler addressed the congregation of some 30 people. He said: ‘The article contains serious allegations with regard to drug-taking and other matters of an ethical nature. These allegations will now be investigated by the archdeacon.
‘I am trying to support Stennett pastorally at this demanding time for him and he is very much in my prayers and Bishop Stephen’s [the Bishop of Chelmsford], as are you all here at All Saints.
‘Your area Dean, Canon Jeremy Fraser, is here this morning and is very willing to meet with any of you and answer questions after the service.’ Mr Chandler warned parishioners against speaking to the Press and told them to direct questions from the media to the diocese press officer if they were approached.
The Bishop of Barking, Peter Hill, then told the congregation: ‘Bishop Stephen and I are most grateful to Rev Stephen Chandler for steadying the ship so ably, as he has been doing so recently. Please support him as he seeks support from you.’
After the service a parishioner, who did not want to be named, said: ‘No one would have known about this before the announcement. Everyone is very shocked.’ Another said: ‘We only know what we’ve just been told. It’s not very good if it is true, but we don’t know if it is yet, so we have to wait and let them get to the bottom of it before making any judgment.’
The case is similar to that of the Rev Paul Flowers, dubbed the Crystal Methodist after being caught with drugs and rent boys. The shamed former Co-Op bank boss was filmed handing over £300 in cash for drugs in 2013. He admitted being in possession of cocaine, crystal meth and ketamine at Leeds Magistrates Court.