POLICE today interviewed the Bishop of Gloucester Right Rev Michael Perham on suspicion of indecently assaulting a woman and a girl more than thirty years ago.

Bishop Michael, 66, attended a police station in Gloucestershire today to be interviewed about the allegations which date back to 1980 and 1981.

The investigation is being run by the Metropolitan Police Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "A 66 year old man today attended a police station in Gloucestershire by appointment and was interviewed on suspicion of indecent assault of a child aged under 18 and indecent assault of a second female aged over 18.

"The alleged incidents are said to have occurred between 1980 and 1981 and are being investigated by officers from the Metropolitan Police Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command. Enquiries continue."

Today's police announcement follows a brief statement from the Gloucester Diocese last weekend saying Bishop Michael was stepping down from his post for personal reasons.

The diocese has not commented except to say that steps are being taken for the Bishop of Tewkesbury, Right Rev Martyn Snow, to take over his duties.

Bishop Michael, who has served as Bishop of Gloucester for almost ten years and was due to retire on his 67th birthday on Nov 8, did not fulfil an engagement to take part in a major World War One centenary service at Gloucester Cathedral on Sunday.

A service to say farewell to Bishop Michael had been organised for his birthday at the cathedral but it now appears that it will not go ahead.

His retirement announcement had been made in February to allow plenty of time for him to say his farewells to clergy and worshippers throughout the diocese - and also to ensure he could complete a walking pilgrimage to every parish in Gloucestershire.

Members of the cathedral and diocesan clergy in Gloucester and local vicars around the county have been told not to comment on this week's developments.

It is widely expected that Bishop Michael's successor in the New Year will be the Church of England's first ever woman Bishop,

A short list of female candidates is understood to include two cathedral deans and an archdeacon.