Charles, the paedophile bishop and a cover-up by the Church lasting 23 years: Scandal deepens over claims religious leaders knew clergymen was a sexual abuser of young men
- Former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball was jailed last year for 32 months
- Secret documents show he was ‘let off’ 23 years ago to prevent a scandal
- He received a police caution in 1992 for allegedly molesting a novice monk
- Detectives then dropped an investigation into other alleged abuse cases
The scandal of a predatory Bishop who escaped prosecution for child abuse for two decades deepened last night as it was claimed that the Church of England knew he was a serial abuser of ‘young men’.
Peter Ball – who was eventually jailed after admitting the abuse last year – benefited from a ‘deeply sinister cover-up’.
Secret documents claimed that he had been let off 23 years ago to ‘prevent a scandal in the press’ – despite the Church of England being told he was a serial abuser. Ball resigned as Bishop of Gloucester in 1993, but returned to work within two years.
The former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, pictured here with Prince Charles in 1992 had benefited from a ‘deeply sinister cover-up’ after the Church of England was told the clergyman was a serial abuser
The report was compiled at the time by a private detective working for Ball’s legal team. It warned senior figures that Ball had been ‘abusing not only his office but many young men’ and had confessed to his behaviour.
Its existence was reported by the BBC and it was described as being for the information solely of the Bishop of Chichester, the late Eric Kemp, and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey.
The documents also indicate the private investigator frequently got to his victims before police did. They also made it clear that Ball had confessed to abusing boys.
However the documents alleged the bishop was let off with only a caution after his lawyers spoke with a ‘sympathetic’ police officer, Wayne Murdock. He returned to work within two years and moved to the Bath and Wells diocese until 2010.
Ball – who counted the Prince of Wales as a ‘loyal friend’ – was eventually jailed for 32 months in October after admitting to abusing 18 teenagers and young men.
Ball, who counted the Prince of Wales as a ‘loyal friend’ was jailed for 32 months in October after admitting abusing 18 teenagers and young men
It was reported last night that a new inquiry is to investigate how much senior figures in the Church – including Lord Carey – knew about his actions. Dame Moira Gibb, a former council chief executive, is to chair an independent review, first ordered last year by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, into how the Church responded to the case.
Last night Archbishop Welby said the case was a matter of ‘deep shame’ for the organisation. ‘I am hugely grateful to Dame Moira for agreeing to take up this vital role,’ he said.
‘We have offered an unreserved apology to all the survivors and commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward. It is a matter of deep shame that a bishop committed these offences.’
Ball, now 83, was first arrested in 1992 for allegedly molesting novice monk Neil Todd at his house at Litlington, East Sussex.
However he only received a caution after admitting one count of gross indecency, and detectives dropped investigations into other victims.
Now details have emerged for the first time of a secret report by a private detective to help Ball’s defence.
According to the BBC, the documents showed that Mr Murdock had discussed with Ball’s legal team ‘the need to prevent a scandal, especially as Peter was a frequent visitor to Sandringham and is friendly with Prince Charles’.
A source, who has seen some of the secret documents, told the Daily Mail: ‘After Ball was arrested the Church hired a private detective to aide his defence.
‘The documents indicate the investigator frequently got to his victims before police did. They also made it clear that Ball had confessed to abusing boys.’
Victims of the disgraced former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester yesterday said the new revelations showed there had been a ‘sinister cover-up’ in the case for two decades. Prosecutors have already conceded that the decision not to prosecute Ball in 1993 was ‘wrong’ as there was enough evidence to bring charges.
But it emerged last month that at the time of his arrest, leading Establishment figures – including two Archbishops of Canterbury, Tory MPs, a senior judge and public school headmasters – mounted an extraordinary campaign to protect him.
In letters to police chiefs and the Director of Public Prosecutions they variously described Ball as a ‘saint’ and claimed it was ‘literally inconceivable’ that he could have committed the offences.
During Ball’s sentencing, prosecutor Bobbie Cheema QC had also told the Old Bailey that in 1993 his lawyers had claimed to have a letter of support from a member of the Royal Family, but the CPS said it had not seen this correspondence.
Last month it emerged that leading members of the establishment mounted a campaign to defend Ball
Phil Johnson, who said he was indecently assaulted by Ball when he was a 13-year-old choirboy, said the latest revelations were an ‘outrage’.
He said: ‘The only concern to the Church appears to be protect its own reputation. It is appalling to think that they knew there were other victims out there but did nothing to try to help them.
‘The Church has extremely serious questions to answer surrounding this.’
Mr Murdock said in a statement to the BBC that his ‘investigation was conducted with the highest standards of integrity, transparency and impartiality’.
He denied that any deal was done, stating the ‘decision as to how the case was disposed of in 1993 was ultimately taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions.’
Gloucestershire Constabulary told the BBC they reviewed their original handling of the case in 2012.
‘The original investigation was of a thorough standard and there is no reason to believe that anything was overlooked,’ a spokesman said.
Ball was jailed last year after pleading guilty to abusing 18 young men in the 1970s and 1980s during his time as Bishop of Lewes.
Lord Carey has previously told the BBC he knew nothing about the investigation nor of its author. A Clarence House spokesman said that the Prince of Wales ‘made no intervention in the judicial process on behalf of Peter Ball.’
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