SEXUAL abuse committed by clergymen in Sussex was the worst of anywhere else in the country, the church has said.

The frank admission comes after the ninth Sussex churchman in two years was found to have used their position to commit sexual offences.

Vickery House, a former vicar of Berwick, was found guilty at the Old Bailey on Wednesday of five counts of indecent assault on males - with one as young as 14 - over a period of 16 years.

A Diocese of Chichester spokesman told The Argus they hoped House's conviction would “touch wood” be the last case to come to light.

But many abuse survivors and their lawyers said they expected more to be unearthed and called for the national Goddard Inquiry into historic sex abuse to make the diocese a particular focus of investigation.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, announced on October 5 that an internal Church inquiry would be set up into the handling of case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes, who committed crimes in league with House when they worked together.

But almost a month later the inquiry has yet to start, and neither its chairman nor its terms of reference have been established.

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer who has acted for Ball’s victims, said: “It’s too late in the day for a Church inquiry.

“We’ve been down this road before, with the internal Schloss inquiry - half of it was never published and in the end victims didn’t have faith in it.

“The only body that can properly look at this is Goddard because it has statutory powers to compel the production of documents.”

He and other campaigners have urged Goddard’s lawyers to look at Chichester in particular detail, because, he said, there had been more cases relating to the diocese than any other.

Rob Marshall, a spokesman for the Bishop of Chichester, said the church had been “buffeted” by the wave of scandals, and acknowledged that it was clear that abuse had been “a cultural thing” in the diocese at the time.

He said the Diocese of Chichester, which covers Sussex, had been rocked by more sexual abuse scandals than anywhere else in the country. He added: “One of the things the inquiry will look into is, why was there so much in this part of the country?”