Lord Carey criticised by damning report which finds Church 'colluded' with disgraced bishop Peter Ball to cover up sex offences

Lord Carey criticised by damning report which finds Church 'colluded' with disgraced bishop Peter Ball to cover up sex offences

By Olivia Rudgard, June 22, 2017, The Telegraph

Senior Church of England figures "colluded" with a disgraced bishop to conceal evidence of his sex offences, a report has found.

The report, the result of an 18 month-long enquiry by Dame Moira Gibb, found that senior clergy "trivialised" the actions of the disgraced bishop and sought to protect its reputation by failing to pass on evidence of further abuse. 

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey was heavily criticised by the damning report which condemns the Church of England over its handling of the case of bishop Peter Ball, who was convicted of sex offences in 2015

Ball, a former bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, admitted abusing boys and was jailed in October 2015 for indecent assault and misconduct in public office. He was released from prison earlier this year

The report, published on Thursday, found that Lord Carey wrote to Peter Ball's twin brother, Bishop Michael Ball, in 1993, after Peter Ball had accepted a caution for gross indecency, saying he believed he was "basically innocent".

It added that several letters sent by members of the public who had witnessed or experienced evidence of abuse were not passed on to police, and that the Church had prioritised preserving its own reputation over supporting victims. 

In a foreword, Dame Moira Gibb said that Ball had "abused many boys and men over a period of twenty years or more", a "shocking" fact which is "compounded by the failure of the Church to respond appropriately to his misconduct, again over a period of many years. 

"Ball's priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The Church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others," she said. 

Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, said the report, titled Abuses of Faith, made "harrowing reading". 

"The Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward," he said, adding that there were "no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systemic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades". 

Ball, now 83, resigned as a bishop and accepted the caution in 1993 after Neil Todd, a young man who had stayed with him, told Church figures there had been "sexual activity" between the two. Mr Todd killed himself in 2012. 

Several establishment figures also wrote to the CPS in support of Ball while he was under investigation, including Lord Lloyd, a former Lord Justice of Appeal, Lord Carey, Lord Donald Coggan, another former Archbishop of Canterbury, two MPs and several public school staff members and headmasters.

The report said that six letters containing evidence of further abuse, received by the Church after Mr Todd came forward, were not passed to police, which "must give rise to a perception of deliberate concealment". 

Ball retired to a rented cottage on the Prince of Wales' Duchy of Cornwall estate and started to draw a pension. The report also criticises the "unusual degree of financial support from the Church" that he received in retirement. 

But despite resigning his ministry church officials including Lord Carey allowed him to carry out services including baptisms and confirmations, as well as speaking at 17 public schools, some until as late as 2007.

He was not added to the "Lambeth List", which identifies clergyman about whom there are questions as to their suitability for ministry. 

He was convicted of the offences after a renewed investigation into his actions was opened in 2012 following a review of past cases by then-Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams.

Ball's trial heard that a "member of the Royal Family" had also vouched for him, but the report said that having reviewed letters between the Prince of Wales and the former bishop the authors had "found no evidence that the Prince of Wales or any other member of the Royal Family sought to intervene at any point in order to protect or promote Ball."

It also said that he "sought to exploit his contact with members of the Royal Family in order to bolster his position".

In a statement, Lord Carey said the report "makes deeply uncomfortable reading" and apologised to Ball's victims. 

He added: "I believed Peter Ball's protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind these allegations". 

The current Bishop of Gloucester, the Right Revd Rachel Treweek, said she was "greatly shocked and distressed" by the report.

She said: "The report presents a devastating account of Peter Ball’s abuse and it is a matter of deep shame and regret that a Bishop in the Church of England committed such horrendous crimes and that as a Church we repeatedly failed to act and protect those who came forward for help.

“I feel immensely sad that Neil Todd took his own life and is not with us today – I wish to commend his tenacity and courage and that of other victims and survivors."

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