Music master faces child porn charges

A choirmaster who performed at Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding and was granted an audience with the Pope faces charges for sexual offences against under-age girls, it emerged last night.

A choirmaster who performed at Prince Charles and Lady Diana's wedding and was granted an audience with the Pope faces charges for sexual offences against under-age girls, it emerged last night.

Chris Bell, former master of music at St John's Roman Catholic Cathedral in Norwich and director of music at Taverham Hall preparatory school, was arrested by Norfolk police after indecent images were discovered at his home earlier this year.

The 39-year-old, who has also appeared on television and recorded with Paul McCartney as a child prodigy, will appear before Norwich magistrates later this month accused of making indecent photographs of children.

It is alleged that the pictures of a number of girls under the age of 16 were taken using a pinhole camera concealed in a bathroom wall at Mr Bell's home in the city.

He left his role at the Catholic cathedral last July and has not taught at Taverham Hall since October.

Yesterday the school's head-master Waine Lawton confirmed he was aware of the police investigation and that Mr Bell would not be returning to his job.

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A spokesman for the East Anglian Roman Catholic diocese said: "Mr Bell left his position as master of music over an unrelated matter.

"The diocese has co-operated as fully as it can­ with the authorities and we await the conclusion of the court case."

The case is likely to be heard at Norwich Crown Court and, if convicted, Mr Bell could face jail, would be placed on the sex offenders register and might be banned from working with children for life.

Originally from Colchester, Mr Bell began his musical career when he was admitted into the choir of St Paul's Cathedral in London at the age of nine.

In his internet biography, which has since been taken offline, he describes his personal highlight as singing at the 1981 wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales.

He had an audience with Pope John Paul II and performed in the Sistine Chapel.

His voice features on a wide range of recordings, both sacred and secular, and he has toured America playing trumpet and piano with a jazz band.

In 1993 he married an alto in one of his choirs and they moved to Norfolk where he took up the post of director of music at the fee-paying Taverham Hall which takes pupils up to 13-years-old. In this capacity he supervised tours across the UK and abroad.

In 1998 Mr Bell took up the part-time post of master of music at St John's Cathedral. Despite not being a Catholic Mr Bell volunteered for the role because the cathedral was struggling to find a suitable candidate.

He also conducted the Hethersett Choral Society and as a member of Royal School of Church Music, ran courses for choristers and choir trainers across East Anglia.

He separated from his wife shortly before his arrest.

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