After an independent review of the Church’s handling of the case of Peter Ball, a former disgraced Bishop who was charged with abusing young boys, The Archbishop of Canterbury (Justin Welby) has asked his predecessor George Carey to step down as Honorary Assistant Bishop. The report was ordered by Justin Welby and chaired by Dame Moira Gibb. Gibb is the former chief executive of Camden Council. Every Bishop has been sent a copy of the report.
Justin Welby said “The Church colluded and concealed rather than seeking to help those who were brave enough to come forward. This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour.” Welby had written to Lord Carey, asking him to “carefully consider his position”.
The report states Carey “set the tone for the Church’s response to Ball’s crimes and gave the steer which allowed Ball’s assertions that he was innocent to gain credence”. The report also shows that Carey was sent seven letters about Ball’s abuse after his arrest in 1992, but only gave the police one of those letters. “The failure to pass six of the letters to police must give rise to a perception of deliberate concealment,” the report said.
Lord Carey has voluntarily agreed to step down from his position and has since apologised to the victims of Ball. Carey said the report made “uncomfortable reading” and he accepted its criticisms of him. “I apologise to the victims of Peter Ball. I believed Peter Ball’s protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind those allegations.”
Ball was jailed in October 2015 for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 vulnerable young men aged 17-25, between 1977 and 1992. He was released from prison in February after serving only 16 months of his sentence.
After Ball was first accused in 1993, numerous senior establishment figures – including Carey, an unidentified member of the royal family, cabinet ministers and a high court judge – came forward in his support.
Ball was cautioned and later resigned his post as Bishop. He retired to a rented cottage on the Prince of Wales’s Duchy of Cornwall estate. However, he still continued to officiate in 17 public schools until 2007. A fresh investigation into Ball was opened in 2012 and this led to his conviction.
One of first victims of Ball’s to come forward, Neil Todd, had attempted suicide three times before killing himself in 2012. The report found that there was “little evidence of compassion for Neil Todd even though from the outset it was clear that he was a vulnerable young man who had come to harm. The church appears to have been most interested in protecting itself.”
The report shows that Ball “was seen by the church as the man in trouble who the church needed to help and was portrayed as a victim. Ball’s priority was to protect and promote himself and he maligned the abused. The church colluded. The church colluded with that rather than seeking to help those he had harmed, or assuring itself of the safety of others.” Ball has refused to take part in the inquiry.
Peter Hancock, the Church of England’s lead safeguarding Bishop stated: “Having read the report I am appalled and disturbed by its contents … As a church we colluded, we failed to act and protect those who came forward for help. There are no excuses. We accept all the recommendations and are working to action them.”
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