The founder and former leader of Soul Survivor Watford has been referred to the Home Office’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) following the outcome of a national safeguarding investigation that found he had engaged in “inappropriate relationships, the physical wrestling of youths and massaging of young male interns”.

The Church of England confirmed to Premier Christian News that a referral for Canon Rev Mike Pilavachi to be considered for the DBS Barred Lists has been sent, as per House of Bishops’ safeguarding guidance.

These lists – one that covers children and one that covers adults – prohibit named individuals from working, applying to work or volunteering, in regulated activity with vulnerable groups.

According to the DBS website, specific organisations have “a legal duty” to make a referral to DBS when “they have dismissed, removed or would have removed (had they not left) an employee or volunteer working in regulated activity, following harm to a child/vulnerable adult, or where there is a risk of harm”.

As part of a five-stage assessment process, the DBS will consider whether to place Pilavachi on one, both or neither of the lists. A spokesperson told Premier Christian News that the DBS would not comment on individual cases.

Pilavachi resigned as associate pastor of Soul Survivor Watford in July. In a statement posted on his social media channels at the time, he said: “I have taken this step because the Church needs to heal and I have realised that my continued presence will hinder that process. I seek forgiveness from any whom I have hurt during the course of my ministry.

“I have, on advice, made no comment on the allegations and will not make any further public comment as I do not believe it would be good for anyone if I took part in a trial by media or social media.”