A minister who has been under police investigation over claims he stripped and spanked people in his office has been charged with sex and child cruelty offences.

Reverend Howard Curtis, senior minister at the Coulsdon Christian Fellowship, was arrested in July last year over the assaults, alleged to have happened between 2006 and 2009 as part of a practice known as Christian domestic discipline.

Rev Curtis, of Bloxworth Close, Wallington, has been charged with two counts of indecent assault, five counts of sexual assault and six counts of child cruelty.

The charges relate to offences against eight alleged victims between 1969 and 2012.

The 71-year-old denies the claims and has been bailed to appear at Croydon Magistrates’ Court on October 31.

Speaking outside the Chipstead Valley Road church last year, Rev Curtis told the Croydon Guardian: "I have not done anything wrong, but it seems you are guilty as soon as you are accused."

Last October, Rev Dominic Warner, minister at the independent charismatic Baptist church, stressed the church did not endorse Christian domestic discipline.

The practice involves husbands asserting authority over their wives through physical punishment, often by spanking.

Rev Curtis left the church after the police launched its investigation.