Bishop Peter Ball victim withdraws from church abuse review

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image captionBall was jailed last year for a string of offences against teenagers and young men in the 1970s, 80s and 90s

A clergyman abused by a former bishop has said he will not cooperate with a review into the Church of England's investigations.

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

One of his victims, Rev Graham Sawyer, said he had taken the decision because "bullying and silencing" were not in the terms of reference of the review.

The Church said the Ball case "was a matter of deep shame and regret".

In February, it was announced Dame Moira Gibb was chairing an independent review of the Ball case to consider what information was available to the Church, who had it and when.

'Worrying signal'

Mr Sawyer waived his right to anonymity before Ball, former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

He said he objected to the fact the treatment he received from current senior officials in the church would not be covered by the terms of reference of the inquiry.

In a letter to Dame Moira, he states: "I realise that decisions over terms of reference are not your prerogative.

"Nevertheless, that there has clearly been resistance to suggestions of them specifically mentioning bullying, vilification and silencing, sends a worrying but sadly very predictable signal from the Church of England at its very highest levels that these systemically vital matters are not going to be addressed with the fundamental importance they deserve.

"Please inform Archbishop Welby that I therefore decline to give evidence to the review he has established because of the failure of the terms of reference to be amended to include bullying and silencing with a plea for him personally to reconsider this."

image captionDame Moira Gibb is chairing the independent review in the Church of England's handling of the Bishop Ball case

'Sympathetic to plight'

Further correspondence seen by the BBC suggests Mr Sawyer rejected the offer of a discussion with the Church's national safeguarding officer, Graham Tilby, because he was dissatisfied with the church's response to complaints he had made.

Church of England sources said Dame Moira had no powers to compel witnesses to attend and was sympathetic to his plight.

A spokeswoman for the Church said it had offered an "unreserved apology to all the survivors" and "commended the bravery" of those who brought allegations against the former bishop.

"Archbishop Justin has publicly said it is a matter of deep shame and regret that a bishop in the Church of England committed these offences and there are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.

"The Review, which started in February and is expected to last a year, will provide the Church as a whole with an opportunity to learn lessons which will improve our safeguarding practice and policy."

Mr Sawyer visited the former bishop as a teenager in the 1970s.

He said Ball tried to take off his clothes and wanted an "act of commitment" if he was to be ordained.

Mr Sawyer described Ball as a "monster" who controlled him with a "cloak of spirituality".

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