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Sexual Abuse: Inquiry into Church of England ‘Cover Up’

It has recently come to light that the Church of England was aware that a predatory Bishop within the Church was a ‘serial abuser’, who subjected multiple ‘young men’ to sexual abuse over two decades.

Peter Ball, who counted the Prince of Wales as a ‘loyal friend’, was finally jailed in 2015 after pleading guilty to multiple sexual abuse offences. The Bishop was free to carry out his abuse due to the ‘deeply sinister cover up’ put in place by the Church.

‘Sinister Cover Up’

Previously undisclosed documents, compiled at the time by a private detective working for Ball’s legal team, state that nothing was done about Ball’s abuse in order to ‘prevent a scandal in the press’. The report advised senior figures within the Church that Ball had confessed to ‘abusing not only his office but many young men’.

The documents, reported by the BBC, indicate that the private investigator had access to Ball’s victims before police did. The report is described as being ‘for the information solely of the Bishop of Chichester, the late Eric Kemp, and the then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey’ and clearly indicates that Ball confessed to the sexual abuse.

Ball resigned as Bishop of Gloucester in 1993 after being arrested for indecent assault, but after a two year hiatus he returned to work. The documents claim that Ball was let off with just a caution at the time, after his lawyers negotiated with Wayne Murdock, an apparently ‘sympathetic’ police officer. Following his return to the Church, he relocated to the Bath and Wells diocese until 2010.

The BBC has reported that the previously undisclosed documents reveal that Mr Murdock had talked with Ball’s legal team at the time regarding ‘the need to prevent a scandal, especially as Peter was a frequent visitor to Sandringham and is friendly with Prince Charles’.

The former Bishop was sentenced to 32 months in jail last October, after he admitted to the sexual abuse of 18 different young men and teenagers.

New Inquiry

Now a new inquiry is set to investigate exactly how much senior figures within the Church knew about the abuse, and the extent of the cover up that followed. The inquiry was first ordered by Most Rev Justin Welby, the current Archbishop of Canterbury, last year. Former council chief executive, Dame Moira Gibb is to lead an independent review into how the Church first responded to the case.

The Archbishop has described the incident as a matter of ‘deep shame’. Archbishop Welby went on to say:

‘I am hugely grateful to Dame Moira for agreeing to take up this vital role,

‘We have offered an unreserved apology to all the survivors and commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward. It is a matter of deep shame that a bishop committed these offences.’

The new revelations have come as no surprise to the former bishop’s victims, who have said that the report shows the extent of the two decade-long ‘sinister cover up’. The decision not to prosecute Ball after the offences he committed in the early nineties has already been labelled as ‘wrong’ by prosecutors. They claim the amount of evidence available at the time was enough to bring charges against him.

Involvement of Leading Establishment Figures

However, the remarkable campaign that was set up by numerous leading Establishment figures to protect Ball was revealed last month. Letters were sent at the time to police chiefs and the Director of Public Prosecution by figure heads including Tory MPs, two Archbishops, public school headmasters and a senior judge, describing Ball as a ‘saint’. They even went as far as to claim it was ‘literally inconceivable’ that he could have committed the offences.

During sentencing at the Old Bailey, Bobbie Cheema QC for the prosecution told the court that Ball’s lawyers had claimed to have received a letter from a member of the Royal Family in 1993, in which they expressed their support. The CPS however, claims to have no knowledge of this or to have seen the letter.

A Clarence House spokesperson said:

‘As we said at the time of Peter Ball’s sentencing, The Prince of Wales made no intervention in the judicial process on behalf of Peter Ball. The CPS confirmed then that the information it possessed did not indicate any interference in the case by The Prince of Wales.’

One of Ball’s victims, Phil Johnson, was indecently assaulted by the former Bishop when he was 13 years old; he has branded the revelations an ‘outrage’. Mr Johnson said:

‘The only concern to the Church appears to be protect its own reputation. It is appalling to think that they knew there were other victims out there but did nothing to try to help them.

‘The Church has extremely serious questions to answer surrounding this.’

In a statement to the BBC, Mr Murdock – the so called ‘sympathetic’ officer who is responsible for letting Ball off with a caution – described his original investigation as being ‘conducted with the highest standards of integrity, transparency and impartiality’. Mr Murdock added that the ‘decision as to how the case was disposed of in 1993 was ultimately taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions’ and claimed no deal was struck.

A spokesperson for Gloucestershire Constabulary, who has reviewed their original handling of the case in 2012, said:

‘The original investigation was of a thorough standard and there is no reason to believe that anything was overlooked.’

Sexual Abuse Claims – Expert Advice

Hampson Hughes Solicitors specialises in directing sexual abuse claims in a considerate and compassionate manner. Our Abuse & Criminal Injuries Department is headed by Greg Neill – Greg is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).

For an open and friendly conversation about your situation, and to find out how we can assist you relevant to your individual experience, call 0800 888 6 888 or email info@hh-law.co.uk

You will be given the direct-dial of your case handler, meaning that you will always be able to reach the person you need.

Source: Mail Online

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