A MET police officer’s bid to become a church deacon has been put on hold after the High Court ruled he could not resign from the force.

Judge Justice Laing decided yesterday that Andrew Birks could not resign while an investigation continues into the death of a man in custody in 2008.

Following the ruling the Diocese of Chichester confirmed that his ordination to work in the parish of Portslade would be put on hold “indefinitely”.

Police Constable Birks launched the legal challenge after his employers refused his resignation request to allow him to take up his role at St Nicholas and St Andrew Church in Portslade.

Senior officers initially agreed to let him leave but changed their decision after the Independent Police Complaints Commission said resignation would allow him to avoid any potential disciplinary proceedings.

Investigations continue into the death of 40-year-old Sean Rigg at Brixton Police Station in 2008 following his arrest for attacking passers-by and officers in London.

PC Birks was the senior officer overseeing the arrest and he had been suspended while the watchdog investigated.

Residents told The Argus earlier this month that PC Birks had been living in the parish vicarage since May and a planned ordination in June had been postponed.

PC Birks was due to be ordained on September 28 by the Bishop of Chichester.

He had appealed to the court that postponing his ordination date would prevent him taking up the office of curate and mean he would have to vacate the parish vicarage he and his partner were currently living in.

A Diocese of Chichester spokeswoman said: “The diocese has postponed the ordination of Andrew Birks to the diaconate indefinitely.”

Mrs Justice Lang said: “Given the gravity of the allegations against the claimant, namely, that his actions caused or contributed to a death in custody, the public interest requires that he should remain in the force to answer any charges of misconduct which may be brought against him and the other officers involved.”