11.45am

Twelve people have now come forward claiming former priest Alan Woodcock sexually abused them while they attended school.

Detective Sergeant Murray Porter said today he was following up three new claims of abuse, after already establishing nine had cause for complaint.

He was hoping to interview the new complainants in detail over the next few days.

Woodcock, 54, was arrested earlier this month as he returned to his home in London from Greece after Mr Porter asked British authorities to initiate court proceedings to have him extradited to face sexual abuse charges here.

Woodcock is accused of indecently assaulting teenage boys at Silverstream in Upper Hutt, Wellington and Palmerston North between 1982 and 1985 while working as a teacher.

He went to Britain in 1995 and asked to be formally released from the priesthood in December.

He worked as a trauma counsellor at Heathrow airport, before he was made redundant in November. He was also a practice teacher for social workers.

Yesterday Woodcock appeared for the second time at the Bow Street Magistrates Court in London.

He was remanded in custody to Brixton Prison until September 11, the Dominion Post reported.

Mr Porter said he was still waiting today to hear from British authorities about the court appearance, as it was not clear if Woodcock would fight the extradition.

"I am hoping to receive something from the UK this evening to see what's going on. I have only heard second hand what has happened, so I am pretty much in the dark like everyone else until I have more information," he said.

Now that 12 people had laid complaints against Woodcock, Mr Porter hoped the publicity over the case would encourage any others to come forward.

"There's been a lot of publicity over the last while and if any other people wish to contact me, they are most welcome. The more publicity the better," he said.

While the investigation was continuing, Mr Porter said he now had to seek legal advice over what procedure to take if he wanted to lay further charges against Woodcock now that the extradition order was in place.

Woodcock was being defended in London by lawyer Penny Muir.

She earlier claimed in court that he had not fled Britain after learning of the extradition order. She said he had gone to Greece temporarily on a one-way ticket because he had become suicidal and to fight a heroin addiction.

When he left for Greece he had no knowledge of the proceedings and returned when he was alerted to them, she said.

- NZPA