Perverted priest had friends in high places

Perverted priest had friends in high places

Former bishop Peter Ball, above, whose friends included the Prince of Wales, will be sentenced on October 7 after he after he pleaded guilty this week to two counts of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office relating to the sexual abuse of 16 young men over a period of 15 years from 1977 to 1992.

According to the Guardian, victims of the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester have accused the Church of England, the police and senior prosecutors of presiding over an establishment cover-up that prevented him from facing justice for decades.

Details of how the paedophile priest escaped justice 22 years ago were finally revealed after he entered his guilty plea.

Ball was not charged when the allegations of abuse against him first emerged in 1993. Instead the police and senior figures in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), then led by the late Barbara Mills, agreed to issue Ball with a caution.

This was done with the knowledge of the then archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey. Ball then resigned as bishop and went to live in a property lent to him by his friend the Prince of Wales.

Since 1993, those who accused Ball of abuse have struggled for recognition. Phil Johnson, who alleged 19 years ago that Ball had sexually abused him as a 13-year-old boy, said the last two decades amounted to an establishment cover-up.

One of his victims did not live to see the moment when Ball pleaded guilty in the Old Bailey in London. Interviewed by the BBC in 2012, Neil Todd said the police inquiry was long overdue.

Johnson said of Ball:

He is very well connected. There has been pressure on the police ever since 1993 when all this first emerged. It’s been going on for years.

There are many, many victims who have fought for a long time to see him face justice and have not been believed. The church and the establishment have colluded in covering up bishop Peter Ball’s offending at the highest level over very many years.

Evidence presented to pre-trial hearings in the Ball case reveal that when allegations of abuse emerged in 1993, Crown Prosecution Service lawyers said there was “sufficient admissible, substantial and reliable evidence” of indecent assault and gross indecency. Ball, however, was given a caution and escaped a trial and public scrutiny.

Pre-trial evidence also showed that Ball, while still the bishop of Gloucester, said a police officer had reassured him with the words:

Bishop, this is all over.


Statements submitted to the court in the pre-trial hearings included one from former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, above, explaining his intervention in the case. He said in a written statement that he had telephoned a senior CPS director he knew regarding the Ball case in 1993.

He said he was told the caution meant that if other allegations from the past emerged against Ball they would not be pursued in future.

I was worried that if any other allegations were made it would reignite a police investigation. I was told quite categorically that any past indecency matters would not be taken further.

Lord Carey said the senior CPS official told him:

As far as we are concerned he has resigned. He is out of it. We are not going to take anything any further.

The CPS outlined the deal they were offering in a letter to Ball that read:

The view is taken that there is sufficient admissible, substantial and reliable evidence available to support your client for offences of indecent assault and gross indecency.

Having regard to all the circumstances however the Crown would be prepared to allow disposal less than prosecution, namely a caution for an offence of gross indecency … as an alternative to prosecution.

The CPS has denied the caution in any way represented immunity from further prosecutions if more allegations emerged. Ball told the court, however, that he had been reassured there would be no further action in future.

At a pre-trial hearing this year, where Ball appeared frail and weakly spoken, he said:

After I took the caution I asked very clearly ‘does this include all other offences of the same nature before the time of the caution?’

I was told very clearly that it did. I knew there were other people waiting in the wings who wished to accuse me. I have never disguised the fact that there could easily be allegations.

It was a long time ago, my mind has deteriorated greatly and I cannot speak coherently. But I remember this in my confused mind because it was so important to me. I was so glad to get away.

After accepting the caution, Ball resigned from the church to plaudits from Carey, who called him a “highly gifted and original man”. He went to live with his twin brother, the bishop of Truro, and later moved into a property in Somerset provided by Prince Charles on the Duchy of Cornwall estate. Ball described the prince as “a loyal friend”.

Although Ball had resigned, he continued working in churches until 2010, the Church of England having given him permission to officiate.

Over the next 19 years Ball’s name came up in at least three police investigations into sexual abuse by Church of England priests, but he was never charged. Allegations against him also surfaced in at least three official inquiries into decades of child protection failures in the diocese of Chichester, of which Lewes is part.

His arrest in 2012 came after a retired police officer, who was working as a safeguarding officer for the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, at Lambeth Palace, discovered files relating to abuse by Ball. She passed them to Sussex police and asked them to reopen their investigation. Ball was arrested at his home in Langport in November.

Ball was the most senior of a group of Church of England priests in the diocese of Chichester whose activities are only now being brought before criminal courts, many years after their victims first spoke out to the authorities.

As bishop of Lewes he presided over the parishes of East Sussex, including Eastbourne and Hastings, between 1977 and 1992. In 1960 he founded a monastic community, the Order of the Glorious Ascension, and as a result many young boys came into his care as novice monks over the years.

The Guardian reported that, on Tuesday, the Crown Prosecution Service allowed two charges of indecent assault on two boys in their early teens are to lie on file. The deal, hammered out in secret with CPS lawyers, means Ball will not face trial on perhaps the most serious alleged offences, which involved boys aged 13 and 15.

Bobbie Cheema QC, for the crown, told the Old Bailey there had been a great deal of communication between prosecutors and the defence, which had resulted in the pleas.

Cheema said as a result of the guilty pleas, the crown felt a trial on the remaining charges would not be in the public interest.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

19 responses to “Perverted priest had friends in high places”

  1. Gindy51 says:

    Not be in the public interest? They mean not in the church’s interest. The cover up continues….

  2. I am evolved from a microbe says:

    Cheema said as a result of the guilty pleas, the crown felt a trial on the remaining charges would not be in the public interest.

    LIE – a trial would not be in the interest of the coe and the establishment. How much of this was going on in the coe and associated circles … endemic as in the rcc?

    And that buffoon Charles Windsor is shown again, by his appalling judgement, to be unworthy of the high office he is lucked into. I think Charles has just disqualified himself from reigning over us.

    Its time for the UK to push for a republic and disestablish the coe.

  3. I am evolved from a microbe says:

    The fine robes, fancy accoutriments and authority of high religious office are now rendered useless as an effective disguise for sexual deviants. The reputation of these awful people is now in tatters.

  4. dennis says:

    Poor Charles of Windsor just can not pick good friends. he is just so hapless, seems to me.

  5. Broga says:

    The time is long overdue for the ridiculous fancy dress of self important priests and politicians to be openly regarded as comic. Instead Cameron is cramming more of his mates into the House of Lords so they can strut their stuff in pantomime clothes.

    As for Charles Windsor the man and his ideas are beyond parody. And yet, with the stunning effrontery of those who delude themselves into thinking they are our rulers, he insists he must be King. The long bore-in to commemorate Brenda not doing very much for 60 plus years is still being strung out.

  6. AgentCormac says:

    ‘…the crown felt a trial on the remaining charges would not be in the interests of an institution which holds itself up as the epitome of morality.’

    There, that’s that put right. Bloody hypocrites.

  7. Trevor Blake says:

    Dusty read about the secular organization that raped children that was then sheltered by a secular government and ignored by a secular membership? No, I didn’t either. No one ever does. Whatever traits positive or negative secular groups may have, they just don’t hold a candle to the child raping done by religious groups and condoned by religious / religious sympathetic governments. So if you want your children raped, send them to the church or the mosque or the temple. If you don’t want your children raped, don’t send them where he child rapists are.

  8. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Dis-establish the church, get rid of the monarchy and stop treating these people as if they are somehow worthy and important.

  9. tonye says:


    This is a bit of a conundrum, who is the worse off by association?

    Ball or Windsor?

  10. Broga says:

    @tonye: That’s a tough call. A big problem on deciding is that we don’t have all the facts on either of them. And they both have very effective cover up systems.

  11. 1859 says:

    The monarchy is the British equivalent to the celeb-frenzy of Hollywood. Humans strutting about in absurd costumes demanding deference, privileges and respect. And those buffoons wearing the godly costumes get to rape children and pretend to the adoring masses that they are the guardians of morality. The hypocrisy is stifling. They should all be rounded up, hung drawn and quartered in parliament square like in the good old days!

  12. barriejohn says:

    1859: I think you have that the wrong way round! The Americans ditched the monarchy and have elevated Hollywood actors to take their place (the Kennedys being the nearest thing that they ever had to a “royal family”). You can see this in so-called chat shows nowadays, where the questions have to be submitted to their agents beforehand so that they can vet them and prepare answers to the acceptable ones. Never again will we enjoy the hilarious banter of raconteurs like David Niven and Tony Curtis – they all have to be afforded the deference given to royalty today. Piers Morgan is reduced to interviewing athletes and soap stars, who have never done anything more interesting than visit the dentist, yet millions consider this to be prime-time entertainment. And the only time that a really interesting person – like a geneticist or astrophysicist – is the subject of an interview is when they have made a TV programme!

  13. Bubblecar says:

    And Chuck Windsor will be the next goon to lord it over the Kingdom.

    When will the Brits (& Aussies etc) grow out of this garbage?

  14. 1859 says:

    @barriejohn: So much of what I used to see on the telly became more and more like ephemeral trash, meaningless chatter, that I stopped watching. There’s also a certain way of talking to me – as a member of a mass audience – that drives me insane (this is especially true of American commentators). It’s a sort of fake, contrived excitement, presented with a deep, growling, prophet-of-doom voice. I thank dog for the invention of the remote’s mute button!

  15. Robster says:

    Has anyone ever used the image at the top of this post in a Caption competition? It’s full of potential mirth, the silly look on Chuck’s face, the colourful costume on the impressively attired, sure to scare the children ol’ Bish and of course one of the greatest ever silly hats. The story is a worry and yet another (of the almost infinite number) nail in the coffin of the CofE in its home market. I can imagine Chuck saying “Well isn’t that the silliest hat seen this season, the Bishops Fashion Panel at the St Paul’s home of couture HQ are doing a sterling job”.The overdressed silly old Bish probably replied to the Prince “Charlie, is that your tip for race 7 on that piece of paper or are we swapping phone numbers?”

  16. barriejohn says:

    1859: You’re so right. Did you read the comments on Jerry Coyne’s blog recently about the overexcitable Steve Backshall, who very nearly exploded when he caught sight of a blue whale? That sort of presentation is making wildlife documentaries quite unwatchable – we are all treated like five-year-olds, and we don’t like it. Here’s another culprit whom I cannot “bear” to watch, informing us that Sir David Attenborough (an absolute legend) is boring and passe, if you please!

  17. barriejohn says:

    Robster: “Can I do you now, Sir?” (Old British radio gag.)

  18. […] Bishop Peter Ball, 83, evaded prosecution for decades after ‘corrupt’ Establishment figures, including a […]