Inquiry seeks statement about paedophile bishop from Prince Charles

Inquiry into child sexual abuse requests statement about ex-bishop of Lewes and Gloucester Peter Ball

Prince Charles has been asked to give a witness statement to the child sexual abuse inquiry about a paedophile bishop with whom he was in correspondence and who was jailed for grooming young men.

The ex-bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, Peter Ball, 84, was sentenced to 32 months in 2015 for charges relating to 18 teenagers and young men between the 1970s and 1990s. He admitted one count of misconduct in public office and two counts of indecent assault relating to two young men.

The way the allegations against Ball were handled by the Anglican church is being examined by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

A full hearing on the case is due to start on 23 July but at a preliminary hearing on Wednesday counsel to the inquiry, Fiona Scolding QC, said witness statements had been requested from Charles and his principal private secretary.

According to the inquiry’s transcript, Scolding told the inquiry chair, Alexis Jay: “The prince’s solicitors have indicated their client’s willingness to assist us and have raised a number of important issues for us to consider.

“This has led to lengthy and complex discussions and we are currently considering the latest points they have raised. We hope to be able to provide an update to core participants on this in the next couple of weeks.”

Charles, whose Highgrove estate lies within the church’s Gloucester diocese, has been described by Ball as “a loyal friend”.

Richard Scorer, from Slater and Gordon, representing complainants at the IICSA, said: “It is imperative that the inquiry leaves no stone unturned in its efforts to establish how Peter Ball was able to evade justice for two decades.

“If this means calling Prince Charles and other establishment figures as witnesses then the inquiry should do so without fear or favour,” he told the Press Association.

Ball was released from prison in February 2017 after serving 16 months.

Clarence House said: “IICSA has asked the Prince of Wales if he can help the part of their inquiry that deals with Mr Peter Ball. While the Prince has made it clear he was unaware of the extent of Mr Ball’s behaviour, he has indicated he is more than willing to provide context on his contact with Mr Ball, as his former local bishop, if that would help the inquiry.”


Caroline Davies

The GuardianTramp

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