A former Church of England priest jailed for child sex abuse dating back more than 25 years has been banned from ministerial practice for life.

The Diocese of Chichester in West Sussex confirmed it had imposed the most severe sanction on 78-year-old Keith Wilkie Denford.

He was jailed for 18 months after prosecutors said he used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys over an 18-month period from when they were around 13.

On one occasion he got into a bath with one of the boys while aroused. On another he pressed himself up against a boy intimately with the words: "How nice it is to have a cuddle."

Denford, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham-by-Sea, was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against two boys between January 1987 and January 1990.

He was cleared of one count of the same charge following a two-week trial at Hove Crown Court last year.

The Diocese of Chichester said in a statement: "Mr Denford will be banned from ministerial practice for life.

"Following the conclusion of criminal proceedings and a subsequent statutory disciplinary process under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, sentences of prohibition for life from exercising any functions of ordained ministry within the Church of England have been imposed upon the Reverend Keith (Wilkie) Denford.

"The sentences are imposed under Section 30 of the Clergy Discipline Measure following the respondents' convictions and imprisonment for a series of indecent assaults, including offences against minors."