Sussex

Church seeks 'lessons' from Bishop Peter Ball abuse review

  • 24 February 2016
  • From the section Sussex
peter ball Image copyright PA
Image caption Ball was jailed last year for a string of offences against teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s

A review is to examine who in the Church of England knew about sexual abuse carried out by the former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester.

Peter Ball, 84, was jailed in October for offences against 18 teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

The Old Bailey heard a member of the Royal Family and other establishment figures backed Ball when he tried to avoid sex abuse charges in the 1990s.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he hoped the church would learn lessons.

The review panel will be chaired by Dame Moira Gibb, a former chief executive of Camden Council in central London.

Dame Moira chaired a serious case review into Southbank International School in London, where 54 pupils were abused by William Vahey between 2009 and 2013.

Her report, published in January, found the school's safeguarding policies had failed and teachers did not report their concerns.

'Abuse of trust'

The review of the Ball case will consider what information was available to the Church of England, who had it and when.

It will also consider whether the Church's response complied with its own policy and legislation and statutory policy and legislation.

"It is a matter of deep shame and regret that a bishop in the Church of England committed these offences," said Archbishop Justin Welby.

"There are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.

"I hope the review will provide the Church as a whole with an opportunity to learn lessons which will improve our safeguarding practice and policy."

Image caption Dame Moira Gibb will chair the independent review in the Church of England's handling of the Bishop Ball case

Dame Moira told the BBC: "We expect full collaboration from members of the Church. The archbishop, I'm sure, would expect no less.

"We will be talking with a lot of people involved in these events, no doubt including Lord Carey.

"We will examine the Church's response to Peter Ball's offending particularly after it became public in the early 1990s."

She said she wanted to minimise the impact of giving evidence to the review on those who were abused.

"We want the Church to learn quickly from its errors in this situation and to improve its safeguarding for children and adults."

The review is expected to be published within a year.

Ball was Bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 until his resignation the following year.

He was cautioned for one act of gross indecency in 1993 against a 16-year-old trainee monk, but was allowed to work in churches until 2010.

The Archbishop of Canterbury in 1993, George Carey - now Lord Carey - said after Ball was sentenced he greatly regretted that during his tenure the church "dealt inadequately with Peter Ball's victims and gave too much credence to his protestations".

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