The support and gifts the Prince of Wales gave former bishop Peter Ball, who sexually abused 18 young men in his care, after Ball’s police caution for gross indecency was ‘misguided’, a report has concluded.
The scathing analysis of abuse allegations at the Church of England accused the church of of ‘putting its own reputation above the needs of victims and survivors’ by offering secrecy and protection for child abusers which allowed them to ‘hide in plain sight’ for decades, despite damning allegations against them.
Ball, who enjoyed a decades-long friendship with Charles even after he accepted a police caution, was described as one example of how a senior member of the Anglican church ‘was able to sexually abuse vulnerable teenagers and young men for decades’, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) report found.
It concluded abusers were backed by support from senior colleagues which was ‘rarely extended to victims’.
The Prince of Wales also revealed in evidence read out to an inquiry today Ball told him he had quit his job over an ‘indiscretion’. Pictured: Prince Charles and Ball in 1992
It said Charles’ actions – in speaking about Ball with the then-Archbishop of Canterbury and a member of Lambeth Palace, and the Duchy of Cornwall buying a property to rent to Ball and his brother – were ‘misguided’.
‘His actions, and those of his staff, could have been interpreted as expressions of support for Peter Ball and, given the Prince of Wales’ future role within the Church of England, had the potential to influence the actions of the Church,’ the report added.
Prince Charles has insisted he was ‘deceived’ by Ball in the course of their long friendship, which included the heir to the throne sending money to the disgraced clergyman, and Ball speaking at the funeral of the father of the Duchess of Cornwall.
Speaking today a Clarence House spokesman said: ‘It remains a matter of deep regret to the prince that he, along with many others, was deceived by Peter Ball over so many years.
‘As he made clear in his voluntary witness statement to the inquiry, at no time did he bring any influence to bear on the actions of the Church or any other relevant authority.
‘His thoughts remain with victims of the abuse suffered over many years.’
Victims’ lawyer slams ‘damning indictment’
Richard Scorer, a lawyer at Slater and Gordon and who acts for a number of victims, said: ‘We may never know the true harm caused by Charles’ intervention and support for Ball, but welcome the fact that the inquiry did not shy away from highlighting his role in this scandal.
‘This report is a damning indictment of years of church cover-up, facilitation of child abuse and denigration and dismissal of victims.
‘It rightly criticises senior church figures for serious failings, but it also exposes alarming cultural and structural problems in the Church of England.’
Bishop Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s safeguarding lead, said: ‘The report states that the Church of England should have been a place which protected all children and supported victims and survivors and the inquiry’s summary recognises that it failed to do this.
‘It is absolutely right that the Church at all levels should learn lessons from the issues raised in this report.
‘We are immensely grateful to survivors for their courage in coming forward to IICSA to share their experiences of how they were treated by the Church, knowing how difficult this would have been – their testimonies have made shocking and uncomfortable listening.’
One of Ball’s victims, who wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘Throughout all of this Prince Charles has tried to distance himself from Ball and play down their close friendship, the nature of which can be seen in letters disclosed to the inquiry.
‘To say that he was simply misguided in continuing that friendship, even after he was made aware of Ball’s police caution, seems to be letting him off rather lightly. He must have been fully aware of the power and influence that his support would bring.
‘I welcome the work of the inquiry but I can’t help but feel that we will never know the full truth and so those who did contribute to the cover-up may never be properly held to account.’
He only cut ties with him after he was convicted of sexually abusing 18 young men aged 17 to 25 over 30 years in 2015.
The convicted Bishop, 86, was released last year after serving half his sentence behind bars.
In evidence statements to IICSA The Prince of Wales said he was ‘deceived’ by Ball.
It came to light he had written a letter to Ball promising to ‘see off’ a ‘horrid man’ – but he told the inquiry he ‘cannot shed any light’ on the person to whom he was referring.
Ball had told the Prince a single accuser was behind allegations that led to him having to quit as the Bishop of Gloucester.
In a letter to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, the Prince said Ball had told him the complaint against him was false and had arisen from someone who had a grudge against him and was ‘persecuting’ him.
In extracts from one letter between the Prince and Ball, Charles says: ‘I can’t bear it that the frightful and terrifying man is on the loose and doing his worst.’
The former Bishop of Lewes, 86, (pictured in 2015) sexually abused 18 men aged 17-25 during the 1980s and ’90s. He was released last year after serving half his sentence behind bars
But in his letter the Prince, who said he regrets having been ‘deceived’ by Ball, said: ‘I regret that I am unable to shed any light on references made in a letter dated 23rd March 1997 to a ‘horrid man’ or a ‘frightful and terrifying man’.
‘This seems to be a manner of speaking in the midst of a long letter written more than twenty years ago.
‘I do recall that Peter Ball felt that numerous individuals, including his critics in the media, were doing all in their power to disadvantage him unfairly.
‘I suspect, but cannot be certain, that the reference is to this issue in some way.’
The Prince says he did not know about the nature of the complaint against Ball and had not appreciated the meaning of a caution – the acceptance of guilt.
A lawyer for some of the former bishop’s victims has said it was difficult to see that ‘as anything other than willful blindness’.
Ball had previously boasted of being a confidant of Charles, and his court case heard that a member of the royal family was among a host of public figures who supported him when he avoided charges in 1993.
Charles admitted to the inquiry that he had sent Ball and his brother, also a Bishop, gifts of money.
He wrote: ‘I recall that Peter Ball told me that following his resignation as Bishop of Gloucester he would lose the house in which he lived and that, as a consequence, both he and his brother Michael would become homeless.
‘He told me that their monastic vows meant they had very little money. In this context, I occasionally sent the brothers small gifts of money, as I do for many people in need, and Pete Ball’s interest in becoming a tenant of a Duchy of Cornwall property then arose.
‘A significant part of the Duchy’s business is in arranging and managing leases for properties and I mentioned the situation of the Ball brothers to the Duchy, as I do for others from time to time.’
Peter Ball was a well-known figure in the church at the time of his 1992 arrest, for eschewing ecclesiastical robes, dressing as a monk, and sleeping on the floor
Today the report focused on evidence against the Diocese of Chichester and against Ball, and found ‘a number of serious failings’ following allegations of child sexual abuse dating back more than 40 years.
IICSA found claims of abuse were not handled adequately by the church, lacked urgency or appreciation of their seriousness and allowed the church to prioritise its own image above its responsibilities to victims.
One of Ball’s victims, Neil Todd killed himself aged 38 after being ‘seriously failed’ by the church, which ‘discounted Ball’s conduct as trivial and insignificant’ while displaying ‘callous indifference’ to Mr Todd’s complaints.
The report also criticised the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, who showed ‘compassion’ to Ball and displayed his ‘overt support’ for him despite there being no justification.
Victims were ‘disbelieved and dismissed’ by those in authority at the Diocese of Chichester, which received the most reports of child sexual abuse in any of the 42 dioceses in England and Wales during half a century.
In a statement to the inquiry Prince of Wales denied he tried to influence the police probe into Ball, as he also revealed the bishop told him he had quit his job over an ‘indiscretion’.
In another letter from the Prince to Ball in 1995 – two years after Ball’s caution – the future king said he wished he could ‘do more’.
He said: ‘I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.’
Charles also said he had been told by the then Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey the church was looking at bringing Ball back into public ministry.
In the 1995 letter he said it was ‘appalling’ that the Archbishop, now Lord Carey, had ‘gone back on what he told me’.
He said it was clear the Archbishop was ‘frightened of the press – what he calls ‘public perception’.’
Another letter from Charles the following year referred to the process of getting a Duchy of Cornwall property for Ball and his brother Michael, Bishop of Truro.
It said: ‘I long to see you both settled somewhere that suits you and gives you peace and tranquility – and not too far from here so you can come over more easily.’
The pair rented a Duchy property between 1997 and 2011.
Charles’s letter to the inquiry added: ‘My heart goes out to the victims of abuse and I applaud their courage as they rebuild their lives and, so often, offer invaluable support to others who have suffered.
Identical twin brothers Michael Ball (L) and Peter Ball (R were Bishops of JArrow and Lewes respectively in the early 1990s
Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey, seen here giving evidence to IICSA, was criticised by an internal C of E report for failing to pass on allegations about Ball to police
In 2017 an internal Church of England report by Dame Moira Gibb concluded the church ‘colluded’ with Ball, who was jailed in 2015 for historic sex offences against young men.
It was highly critical of then-Archbishop George Carey, who in 1992 did not pass on to police six letters alleging wrongdoing by Ball during a police investigation.
After Ball was cautioned in 1993, Lord Carey did not add Ball’s name to a list of those whose suitability for ministry was questionable, and he helped reinstate Ball in the church, the report found.
After Ball’s conviction in 2015 Archbishop Welby commissioned a review and upon its publication last year he asked George Carey to resign as honorary assistant bishop in Oxford. Lord Carey resigned but later criticised the intervention in a Christmas letter to friends.
He wrote of the ‘shocking insistence by the Archbishop that I should stand down from ministry ‘for a season’ for mistakes he believes were made 24 years ago when bishop Peter Ball abused young potential priests.’
He added: ‘His decision is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such.’
Today Professor Alexis Jay, inquiry chairman, said: ‘For years, the Diocese of Chichester failed victims and survivors of child sexual abuse by prioritising its own reputation above their welfare.
‘Not only were disclosures of abuse handled inadequately by the Church when they came to light, its response was marked by secrecy and a disregard for the seriousness of abuse allegations.
‘Peter Ball is one example of how a senior member of the clergy was able to sexually abuse vulnerable teenagers and young men for decades.
‘The public support he received is reflective of the Church’s culture at the time – a support that was rarely extended to his victims.’
Ball, now in his late 80s, accepted a caution for one count of gross indecency in 1992 and resigned due to ill health.
It was not until 22 years later that he finally admitted his crimes, and was jailed in 2015 for sexually abusing 18 young men over three decades.
The report also found Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) missed an opportunity to charge Ball with a slew of offences in 1992, which he subsequently admitted in 2015.
He was released in February 2017 after serving half of his 32-month sentence behind bars.
He was deemed too ill to give evidence to the inquiry in person, but submitted a lengthy statement in which he said he had got to know Charles better after his divorce from Diana, Princess of Wales, and that their relationship ‘was one of support and respect’.
‘I wish I could do more’: What the prince wrote to his friend the bishop as allegations swirled around
Sept 1993, Ball to Charles
Life continues to be pretty nasty for me for, it seems that my accusers still want to continue their malicious campaign. Luckily they are beginning to show some of their fraudulent plans.
Dec 1994, Charles to Ball
I saw the Archbishop the other day and he told me he is trying to bring you back to a public ministry. I do hope this will be all right and suit you, if and when it happens….
Feb 1995, Charles to Ball
I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated. It’s appalling that the Archbishop has gone back on what he told me, before Xmas, that he was hoping to restore you to some form of Ministry in the Church.
I suspect you are absolutely right – it is due to fear of the media….If it is any consolation, the Archbishop has written me a letter (between you and me) in which it is also clear that he is frightened of the press – what he calls ‘public perception’, which in fact, perception of events and characters based entirely on lies, invention, speculation and sensation.
Dec 1995, Ball to Charles
The young man who accused me keeps on harassing. The last was a few weeks back with a fax, threatening to say more, when he has agreed not to and ending with the words ‘Your never forgiving brother in Christ’. That is both vile and blasphemous and oh that the police and CPS had seen and known from the beginning the nature of the young man. How I wish the Archbishop or someone would tell them.
April 1996, Ball to Charles
And I can honestly share the pain of it all having tried to break the crippling and unchristian powers of the ecclesiastical set up, and then being deserted in my hour of need.
June 1996, Charles to Ball
…I am so glad that [X] has been in touch as I requested. I pray the Duchy will be able to find something suitable for you both in due course, but it may take a little time to locate it! I long to see you both settled somewhere that suits you and gives you peace and tranquility – and not too far from here so you can come over more easily…
March 1997, Charles to Ball
[X] tells me that your house has been bought successfully – it looks rather nice – and I only hope the rent won’t be too bad!
I can’t bear it that the frightful, terrifying man is on the loose again and doing his worst… I was visiting the vicar… and we were enthusing about you and your brother and he then told me that he had heard that this ghastly man was up to his dastardly tricks again…. I’ll see off this horrid man if he tries anything again.
Aug 2001, Charles to Ball
I do however firmly believe that one day people will be forced to signing your resignation deed but, as you have been advised, I daresay that the establishment will close ranks and you will get nowhere. But how outrageous that now these people say sorry – and only in private….
Dec 2001, Charles to Ball
I saw [ ] the other day…he mentioned that you were thinking of going to the Archbishop and seemed a bit anxious about it… I daresay by now you will have approached the Archbishop but in your letter you so kindly asked me whether I had any objections – something which you certainly didn’t need to do.
The only thing I would say is that unless you really need to go to the Archbishop of Canterbury – for financial reasons particularly – I would have thought it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie…
Oct 2009, Ball to Charles
I am now nearly a broken man, because of what the Church has put me through after seventeen years of serving in retirement. They have smashed me with the bully of an assessor -…from a Child Protection Officer and no pastoral care, except two nice letters from the Archbishop. Suddenly, I am not allowed to baptise, or go to any parish without informing the Church Warden that I had a caution all those years back…
Ball included a letter that set out he was being risk assessed.
May 2010, Ball to Charles
…the horror that has come to me from the Bishop of Chichester with the Archbishop’s obvious hand in it. I have been told that I may not minister at all when we move, nor may I worship anywhere without signing a Declaration for the Protection of Children.
May 2012, Ball to Charles
Writes to say that the police are re-opening the investigation and are to question him. He says: ‘I thought it had been fully examined twenty years ago.’
July 2012, Ball to Charles
Life is ‘almost unbearable. I am being pursued and persecuted. In ways which it would not be discreet to enlarge on, though I am sure that you can guess their source and virulence’.
Dec 2012, Ball to Charles
Ball wrote to thank the Prince of Wales for phoning him, writing in the letter that the affair of twenty years ago had been ‘stirred up’ again by Lambeth.
Charles also said, in the six-page statement read by counsel to the inquiry Fiona Scolding, that he had not appreciated the meaning of the caution and that at the time the word of a bishop was generally seen as trustworthy.
He said he did not realise the truth of what had gone on until Ball’s conviction, adding that his main source of information until then had been the bishop himself.
Dismissing any suggestion he had ever tried to interfere in the police investigation into Ball, Charles said it was possible his name had been taken ‘in vain’.
In his statement, dated July 10 2018, Charles said: ‘At no stage did I ever seek to influence the outcome of either of the police investigations into Peter Ball and nor did I instruct or encourage my staff to do so.’
Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, was too ill to give evidence in person, the inquiry heard. But in a statement he referred to his relationship as having been one of ‘support and respect’.
Ball said: ‘I would strongly resist any suggestion that in some way I could bring pressure to bear on him to act on my behalf and have certainly never made a request for him to do so.’
Last year Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon who represents a number of Ball’s victims, said Charles’s explanation that he was not aware of the meaning of a caution left his clients ‘dissatisfied’.
He said: ‘Prince Charles had access to the best legal advice that money can buy and, as a man in his position, a particular responsibility to check the facts. It is difficult to see his failure to do so as anything other than wilful blindness.
‘His evidence, together with that of Lord Carey, the then archbishop of Canterbury, and other establishment figures who have given evidence this week, will do little to dissuade survivors from the conclusion that the British establishment aided and protected Ball and even now have failed to give a transparent account of their actions.’
Charles said in the six-page letter that it was his ‘deep regret’ that he and others had been ‘misled’ by Ball. Elsewhere in his evidence, Charles said Ball had been invited to his home to give holy communion a number of times, from 1993.
He said: ‘Peter Ball occasionally wrote to me in respect of private, often spiritual, matters.’
Referring to his knowledge of the complaint against Ball, he added that in the 1980s and 1990s there was ‘a presumption that people such as Bishops could be taken at their word and, as a result of the high office they held, were worthy of trust and confidence’.
He said at the time ‘there was on my part a presumption of good faith’.
The inquiry examined how the Church of England handled allegations of sexual abuse and has previously focused on the Diocese of Chichester – where Ball and several other convicted paedophile priests once officiated.
Ball accepted a caution for one count of gross indecency in 1993 and resigned due to ill health.
Prince Charles has denied he tried to influence a police probe into the disgraced bishop Peter Ball, in a written statement heard at a child sex abuse inquiry today
Prince Charles’ full statement to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse
Dear Professor Jay
1. Thank you for inviting me to offer context on how I came to know former Bishop Peter Ball and on my dealings with him over the years, to assist your important Inquiry. I want to begin by applauding your work to ensure that the abuse of children is properly investigated and appropriate measures are taken to ensure they are fully protected. That is why I am pleased, on this occasion, to offer the following information, which I have set out to the best of my recollection after the passage of 25 years.
2. Over the years I have had, and continue to have, many interactions with the Clergy of the Church of England and of other Faiths, often on a daily basis. Set in that context, I first became aware of Peter Ball sometime during the 1980s, when I heard him preach. At that time, he came across as an interesting and engaging person. He was later appointed Bishop of Gloucester, in 1992. Since he had become my local Diocesan Bishop, near my home in Gloucestershire, I attended his Installation. He gave an impressive Address, which brought him to my attention again. At the same time I recall becoming aware of Michael Ball (Peter Ball’s brother) who was later appointed Bishop of Truro, to which I am also closely connected through the Duchy of Cornwall. Over the whole of my life, I have met countless senior Clergy who have been invited to preach and, on various occasions, I have myself invited them to give Holy Communion at my home. I extended such invitations to Peter Ball from time to time, starting in 1993.
3. As is well known, I maintain correspondence relationships with a great number of individuals. Peter Ball occasionally wrote to me in respect of private, often spiritual, matters. On each occasion I naturally replied as I believe that to be the polite thing to do, although there was often a significant delay on my part given other priorities which demanded my attention. My recollection is that these exchanges were normally instigated and driven by Peter Ball, in addition to a handful of telephone calls during the decades of our correspondence. Having refreshed my memory of our correspondence to try to help your Inquiry, I note this is borne out by the contents and dates of the letters in question.
4. With the significant passage of time, I cannot now recall with sufficient certainty when the following exchange took place and whether there was one particular conversation that concerned the reflections I offer below or more than one.
5. Peter Ball told me that he had been involved in some form of ‘indiscretion’, which prompted his resignation as my local Bishop at Gloucester. He emphasised that one individual, who I now understand to be Mr Neil Todd, had made a complaint to the Police; that the Police had investigated the matter; and that the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to take no action. This sequence of events seemed to support Mr Ball’s claim that the complaint emanated from a single individual; that the individual bore a grudge against him and was ‘persecuting’ him; that the complaint was false; but that the individual had nonetheless profited from the complaint by selling his story to the newspapers. The matter was described by him as ‘closed’. Peter Ball added that various people within the Church did not like him and had themselves used the complaint to curtail his ministry and force his resignation. When this exchange took place, I did not know about the nature of the complaint.
6. The true context and details of this complaint, and I now understand many others, against Peter Ball did not come to my attention until the time of Mr Ball’s trial and conviction in 2015. My main source of information before this was Mr Ball himself, though I should add that I was so fully occupied by my public role that Mr Ball’s situation was rarely at the front of my mind. As context, it seems important to say that in the 1980’s and 1990’s there was a presumption that people such as Bishops could be taken at their word and, as a result of the high office they held, were worthy of trust and confidence. That has changed over the years, as evidence has caused us all to be more challenging of what we hear and what we are told. But, at the time, there was on my part a presumption of good faith. I believe I was far from alone in taking this view.
7. I was certainly not aware at the time of the significance or impact of the caution that Peter Ball has accepted, or indeed sure if I was even told about it. Whilst I note that Peter Ball mentioned the word in a letter to me in October 2009, I was not aware until recently that a caution in fact carries an acceptance of guilt. I was aware that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to pursue a case against Mr Ball. This seemed to support Mr Ball’s defence of his position set out in his letter.
8. I recall that Peter Ball told me that following his resignation as Bishop of Gloucester he would lose the house in which he lived and that, as a consequence, both he and his brother Michael would become homeless. He told me that their monastic vows meant they had very little money. In this context, I occasionally sent the brothers small gifts of money, as I do for many people in need, and Pete Ball’s interest in becoming a tenant of a Duchy of Cornwall property then arose. A significant part of the Duchy’s business is in arranging and managing leases for properties and I mentioned the situation of the Ball brothers to the Duchy, as I do for others from time to time. The details of the eventual rental were handled, as usual, by Duchy staff. I was aware of the transaction but did not assist with the selection of the house. Some time later, in 1997, Peter and Michael Ball became tenants of a Duchy property until early in 2011, when they moved on.
9. At no stage did I ever seek to influence the outcome of either of the Police investigations into Peter Ball and nor did I instruct or encourage my staff to do so.
10. I understand from document ANG000021 that a member of Gloucestershire Police seems to recall that he ‘came under pressure’ in 1992 or 1993 which related in some way to some form of interest from myself and my staff in Peter Ball. This is untrue. Indeed, at the time of this Police investigation I had no knowledge of these particular matters. It follows, therefore, that I did not authorise – and could not have authorised – any such action. And nor would I have done.
11. Likewise, I have no recollection of any contact by one of my Personal Protection Officers or indeed any member of my staff with Gloucestershire Police. I was clear at the time, as I have remained clear, that the Police must be able to carry out their investigation in the proper manner without external pressure or influence. We have looked at our files and can find no record of any of these matters. It is always possible that my name was taken in vain, as can unfortunately happen from time to time. As I make clear elsewhere in this Statement, there is a gap between rumour and fact.
12. In a similar vein, I do not recall receiving a letter from Michael Ball in April 2013 as described by Detective Superintendent Carwyn Hughes (OHY000203). Having looked at our files we cannot find any record of such a letter. The occasional letters that I did receive from Michael Ball were of private and social nature and I am not aware of any interest from Sussex Police in this correspondence. Nevertheless, I have made available to you copies of the private correspondence received from Michael Ball, in case that could help your Inquiry in any way. I understand that a conversation took place between Sussex Police and the Metropolitan Police Royalty Protection team in 2013, and that Sussex Police informed the Metropolitan Police that they visited Peter Ball’s home and removed items which included a letter sent from me. I believe the Metropolitan Police asked whether or not this letter was relevant to the inquiry. I further understand that the Metropolitan Police emphasised clearly that they were not enquiring about the investigation itself and specifically wished to avoid any appearance of influence over it. They wished only to establish the facts about the property that had been removed and its correct ownership. The Metropolitan Police were told that the letter in question was not relevant and that it was to be returned by Sussex Police to Peter Ball.
The Church of England
13. Probably late in 1994 (although I cannot now be certain of the date) I recall seeing the then-Archbishop of Canterbury at an event and taking that opportunity to ask, among other issues, about Peter Ball as he had lately been my local Bishop. I remember the Archbishop was supportive of Peter Ball and thought him a good man and priest. I do not think we discussed any detail, though I recall that the Archbishop was perhaps thinking of ‘trying to bring [Peter Ball] back to a public ministry’ at some stage. I understood there were some complications, but these were not described. As this was clearly a matter for Church authorities, I took no personal position on it.
14. Other than this conversation with the then-Archbishop, I do not recall any specific conversations regarding Peter Ball, although I was aware that Mr Ball was himself keen to persuade the Church to ‘restore [him] to some form of Ministry in the Church’. The general view of members of the Clergy who occasionally mentioned him to me was that he was a capable and well-liked priest.
15. The Inquiry has asked about a note made by Andrew Purkis, of Lambeth Palace, following a lunch he had with my then-Private Secretary, Richard Aylard, on 30th August 1994 (ACE003034). My Private Secretary meets regularly with members of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Office to discuss a range of matters. Having reviewed the document it is clear that the meeting took place in the normal course of business and was for the purpose of discussing matters other than Mr Ball. I cannot shed any light on what appears to be a brief mention of Mr Ball at the end of the meeting. I have no recollection of discussing the matter. I have also been shown a copy of my letter of 14th December 2001 addressed to Peter Ball. As far as I can recall, this letter conveyed that I could not assist Peter Ball in any approach he was thinking of making to the Archbishop to seek a return to public ministry. I recall Peter Ball repeating this request around this time and again some time later and my declining to assist. It follows therefore that I was not involved in ‘any discussion with Lambeth Palace’ on this matter.
Contact with Institutions
16. You have asked about contact between myself and institutions in respect of Peter Ball between 1993 and 2015. To the best of my knowledge and belief I have dealt with these contacts in the information I have volunteered above, and I can only hope this will be of some assistance to you.
17. I have been shown an extract from an interview conducted by the Chair of the Church of England’s Inquiry into Peter Ball last year, Dame Moira Gibb, with Elizabeth Hall of the Church of England, suggested there were some rumours of an interest from me in Peter Ball being given some alternative employment (INQ000682). I can confirm that this is untrue: not for the first time, and as the Gibb Inquiry concluded in respect of my contacts with Peter Ball over the years, there is a gap between rumour and fact. I did not seek any such roles for Mr Ball and did not ask others to do so on my behalf.
18. I regret that I am unable to shed any light on references made in a letter dated 23rd March 1997 to a ‘horrid man’ or a ‘frightful and terrifying man’. This seems to be a manner of speaking in the midst of a long letter written more than twenty years ago. I do recall that Peter Ball felt that numerous individuals, including his critics in the media, were doing all in their power to disadvantage him unfairly. I suspect, but cannot be certain, that the reference is to this issue in some way. It of course needs to be read in the context of my understanding at the time, namely that Peter Ball had been falsely accused of a single offence (the nature of which was unknown to me) by an individual whom the relevant judicial authorities and many others had themselves not believed. Events later demonstrated beyond any doubt, to my deep regret, that I, along with many others, had been misled and the reverse was true. At the time, however, it would have followed that people seeking to disadvantage Peter Ball, including from gaining employment, were behaving unfairly. What I can say with certainty is that I did not express this view to anyone else or take any action associated with it.
19. In conclusion, I would like to state that, throughout my life, my position has occasionally brought me into contact with prominent people who have subsequently been accused of serious wrong-doing. Rather than rushing to private judgement, I have always taken the view that the judicial process should take its course. I am then able to ground my opinions in facts tested by law, rather than hearsay. In many cases, including two very prominent cases of false accusation last year, this has proved a sensible course. It follows that I ceased contact with Mr Ball once the judicial process had concluded and he was found guilty of serious offences against young people. My heart goes out to the victims of abuse and I applaud their courage as they rebuild their lives and, so often, offer invaluable support to others who have suffered. It remains a source of deep personal regret that I was one of many who were deceived over a long period of time about the true nature of Mr Ball’s activities. That is why I wanted to volunteer the facts in this letter, which I believe to be true, in the hope that they might be able to help your important work.
Prayers at Highgrove and a friendship that lasted decades
By Sam Greenhill for The Daily Mail, July 28, 2018
Peter Ball, who made his young victims roll in the snow naked before beating them until they bled, once described Prince Charles as a loyal friend.
The pair had prayed together at Highgrove and exchanged more than 50 letters, many of them deeply spiritual.
And even after his ‘indiscretion’ with a boy of 17, the bishop was given a Duchy of Cornwall house to live in, for which he thanked the ‘wonderfully kind’ prince.
Yesterday Charles expressed deep regret that he had ever put his faith in Ball, saying he had been horribly deceived by the paedophile bishop.
Charles said that in the 1980s, when he first knew him, and the 1990s, there was ‘a presumption that people such as bishops could be taken at their word’.
The former Bishop of Lewes (pictured in 2015, right), who previously boasted of being a confidant of Charles, sexually abused 18 young men over 30 years
It is now believed that sadistic Ball preyed on more than 100 boys and men in a 20-year reign of abuse.
Born in 1932, he went to Lancing College public school in West Sussex and Cambridge University before establishing a monastery in Gloucestershire with his twin brother, Michael.
Ball showed ‘favouritism’ to novice monks, and targeted schools to deliver sermons.
He was made Bishop of Lewes in 1977 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992, during which time he handpicked 18 vulnerable victims to commit acts of ‘debasement’ in the name of religion.
He would pray naked with them at the altar and encourage them to submit to beatings. At least five more victims were schoolchildren.
As Bishop of Gloucester, Ball’s diocese covered Charles’s country home Highgrove, and the prince was among the guests at his enthronement.
By now, he was one of the church’s best known characters, refusing to wear the ceremonial purple of a bishop in favour of simple, monastic robes, sleeping on the floor and taking vows of celibacy.
Eight months after the enthronement, Ball was arrested. Yesterday the prince recalled: ‘Peter Ball told me he had been involved in some sort of ‘indiscretion’ which prompted his resignation as my local bishop.’
In fact he had been horrifically abusing 16-year-old trainee monk Neil Todd, forcing him to perform sex acts as they lay naked in bed together, take ice-cold, early-morning showers while reading the Bible and stand side by side naked reciting psalms in front of a figure of Christ.
Peter Ball pictured at Cheltenham racecourse
Mr Todd was so tormented he eventually committed suicide aged 38 in 2012.
In his letter to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse, Charles said he was unaware of the true nature of the clergyman’s behaviour until more than 20 years after allegations first surfaced.
Ball got away with a police caution in March 1993 despite confessing his guilt. For his part, Charles said he had accepted Ball’s claim that Mr Todd had borne a grudge and made false allegations.
So Ball resumed his ministry, even officiating over communion at Highgrove.
He was also provided with Manor Lodge, a pretty cottage on Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall estate in the village of Aller, Somerset.
Clarence House has been at great pains to say it was the Duchy of Cornwall, the private estate which funds the heir to the throne, and not Charles himself that had purchased the lodge that Ball rented.
It subsequently emerged that police went easy on Ball in 1993 and cited his royal connections.
In documents unearthed by the BBC, retired police detective Wayne Murdock is said to have 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’.
It also emerged that the bishop’s lawyers had claimed to have a ‘letter of support from a member of the Royal Family’, who was not named. It is unclear whether this could be the same letter as the one that emerged yesterday.
Either way, no such letter was ever produced in any court hearings, and an official report found there was no evidence any royal had sought to intervene in the judicial process.
But the mother of the trainee monk was scathing about Prince Charles allowing Ball to live on his Duchy estate. Speaking in 1998, she said of the bishop: ‘He is pure evil, a beast, and he’s hiding behind God.
This is quite unbelievable. I don’t know what Prince Charles thinks he is doing.’
Yesterday Charles said he had always believed in allowing the judicial process to take its course ‘rather than rushing to private judgement’.
In 2006 Ball’s status in royal circles was confirmed in spectacular style when he was invited to read the homily at the funeral of the father of Camilla Parker Bowles.
He continued as a Church of England priest until 2010.
But justice was slowly catching up with him. Police re-opened their investigation in 2012 after new allegations, and this time a flood of Ball’s victims came forward.
If Charles was anxious, that might explain why in 2013 a royal aide contacted the chief constable of Sussex Police to ask whether information gathered during its investigation could ‘be embarrassing to Prince Charles or the monarchy in general’. Apparently they were reassured.
In 2015, Ball’s crimes were finally laid bare at the Old Bailey which heard shocking details of his reign of abuse. His trial heard he had been protected by ‘Cabinet ministers, the Royal Family, MPs, JPs and a lord’, not to mention the Church of England.
The Church has since expressed its ‘true sorrow’ at its shocking failures.
Ball, now 86, was released in February last year and lives a free man back in Aller, Somerset.
Clarence House was quick to insist last night that he is definitely not living in any of Charles’s properties.