Church of England to review bishop sex abuse case of Peter Ball

Peter Ball in 1992 Image copyright PA

The Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned an independent review into the way the Church of England responded to sex offence allegations made against a bishop 22 years ago.

Peter Ball, 83, formerly Bishop of Gloucester and Bishop of Lewes, last month admitted abusing 18 young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

He was cautioned for one act of gross indecency in 1993 and resigned, but was allowed to work in churches until 2010.

Ball will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Survivors of sexual abuse have been highly critical of the Church's handling of the case, even before Ball pleaded guilty.

His latest arrest came in 2011 but only after a retired police officer working in safeguarding for Lambeth Palace found files relating to the case and passed them on to Sussex Police.

'Possible risk'

The Church said the review - which will be published next year - will examine its co-operation with the police and the extent to which it shared information.

"It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors," a spokesman said.

The archbishop of Canterbury in 1993, George Carey - now Lord Carey - was aware of the case at the time and has denied interfering in it.

Last month, he said he only contacted the Crown Prosecution Service after Ball had been cautioned, saying he wanted to "make sure justice had been done".

Church apology

A lawyer representing four of Ball's victims said the Church "should no longer be allowed to police itself".

David Greenwood, head of child abuse cases at Switalskis Solicitors, said it needed to establish an independent body to "accept and investigate allegations of abuse".

Following Ball's guilty pleas at the Old Bailey last month, the Church offered an "unreserved apology" to victims of Ball, who was Bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 to 1993.

Ball, now of Langport, in Somerset, admitted misconduct in public office by "misusing his position in authority to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification" in relation to 16 men between 1977 and 1992.

He also admitted indecently assaulting two victims between 1980 and 1983 and between 1990 and 1991.

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