A West Bromwich clergyman who refused to leave his vicarage after being barred from office for having an affair with a parishioner has been expelled from the premises.
The Reverend Patrick Okechi had refused to vacate the Church of the Good Shepherd with St John in Bromford Lane, after being found guilty last December of conduct unbecoming to the office and work of a clerk in holy orders.
The married father-of-three was removed from his post as vicar at the church and banned from working as a priest for 10 years by a Church of England disciplinary tribunal.
But Dr Okechi failed to leave the church, despite a ruling at Birmingham County Court last month that the Bishops of Lichfield and Wolverhampton were entitled to repossess the property.
The deadline for surrendering the building having passed, officers from the Diocese of Lichfield called to obtain the keys at 9.30am on Wednesday but left without gaining possession.
The agents were invited back later and Dr Okechi voluntarily handed the property over in the afternoon.
Gavin Drake, director of communications for the Diocese of Lichfield, said: “We naturally regret having to repossess the vicarage at the Good Shepherd.
“While we are content that this issue is now resolved, it is not something that we will be celebrating.
“Having said that, Dr Okechi is the author of his own misfortune and all clergy understand the need to uphold the church’s teaching on issues of marriage and fidelity, not just in what they preach, but also in what they do.
“The diocese needs the vicarage to house the next vicar of the Good Shepherd. We are doing all we can to make a new appointment as soon as possible so the congregation and leadership at the church of the Good Shepherd with St John can move forward together.”
On Tuesday, Dr Okechi launched a claim for unfair dismissal, seeking an order for reinstatement, holiday and notice pay and compensation.
The former vicar claimed there had been collusion between a senior diocesan official and his lawyers to mislead him into missing the deadline for presenting his case before a judge.
The case, in Birmingham, was adjourned until November 27.Dr Okechi alleged the Bishop colluded with the lawyers to mislead him and make him miss the deadline to present his case before a judge.
He later took back the claims against the pair and Employment Judge Peter Gilroy directed him to make it clear in writing who exactly the claims were against. Dr Okechi is seeking reinstatement, compensation, holiday pay and notice pay and claims he was unfairly dismissed from his job.