THE Bishop of Gloucester Right Rev Michael Perham has been interviewed by police today, Tuesday, 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.

"He was not arrested and 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’.

There has since been no further comment from the diocese 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 in November, did not fulfil an engagement to take part in a major First World War 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 will not be going ahead.

His plan to retire was announced 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.

Bishop Michael, who has four daughters with wife Alison, has been an outspoken supporter of women becoming bishops and said he was delighted when the decision was made earlier this year to allow it.

Bishop Michael's career in Anglican ministry began at Addington in the London Borough of Croydon in 1976 and continued there until 1981 - covering the period of the allegations which have now been made against him.

In 1981 he was appointed Chaplain to the Bishop of Winchester before moving in 1984 to be Team Rector of a large modern housing area at Oakdale, Poole, Dorset.

He was there until 1992 when he became Precentor and Canon Residentiary of Norwich CathedraL, from there he moved to become Provost and later Dean of Derby.

He served on the Liturgical Commission from 1986 to 2001.

He has written and edited a number of books on worship, liturgy and spirituality including ‘The Sorrowful Way’, ‘Signs of Your Kingdom’ and ‘A New Handbook of Pastoral liturgy’.

He was Secretary to the Church’s Doctrine Commission from 1979 to 1984, and served on the Archbishops’ Commission on church music, which produced the report ‘In Tune With Heaven’.

During his years at Derby he was responsible for the development of the Cathedral’s new visitor centre, which was opened by the Queen in 2002.

He is the second Bishop of Gloucester to become involved in a police invesigation into alleged sex crimes.

Former Bishop of Gloucester The Right Reverend Peter Ball, faces allegations that he molested eight boys and young men aged between 12 and their early 20s.

The abuse is alleged to have occurred during the 1970s and 1980s. He was Bishop of Gloucester in 1992 and 1993 after previously being a member of an Anglican monastic order he founded at Stroud with his twin brother.

He was charged in March this year and appeared in court for the first time in May at Taunton Magistrates'.

He was summoned to appear at Brighton Magistrates court last month, but was too ill to appear.

Asked tonight about the police investigation a spokesman for the Diocese of Gloucester said "This is a police matter. We have no further comment to make."