Sex abuse bishop backed by Prince Charles tries to start a new life
Sex abuse bishop backed by Prince Charles tries to start a new life as a Catholic
- Peter Ball has moved to Somerset to start a new life after sex abuse conviction
- Ball, 86, was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 for historic abuse against boys
- The former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester was a friend of Prince Charles
A sex abuser bishop who was supported by Prince Charles has started a new life in the West Country where he hopes to become a Catholic.
Peter Ball, 86, moved into an 18th century property in a Somerset village after his release from prison last year for abusing 16 young men.
The revelations come days after it emerged Charles had described him as the victim of ‘monstrous wrongs’.
The supportive relationship was detailed in a series of letters given to the child sex abuse inquiry, which heard new claims of an alleged Establishment ‘cover up’ of Ball’s behaviour.
Despite his offences, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester is still the recipient of a generous Church of England pension.
Ball last night said he had been forbidden from discussing the ongoing inquiry, which is investigating how he escaped prosecution for decades after his offending came to light.
Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball is trying to start over in Somerset after his conviction for sex abuse
The Prince of Wales also revealed in evidence read out to an inquiry today Ball told him he had quit his job over an ‘indiscretion’. Pictured: Prince Charles and Ball in 1992
‘I really would like to talk but I’m under strict orders not to discuss anything that has gone on over the last few weeks,’ he said.
He is living with his twin brother Michael, the former Bishop of Truro, who has been accused of attempting to deter police investigations into his sibling.
A church review earlier this year also accused Michael Ball of overlooking accusations against Jeremy Dowling, a prominent church member who was jailed in 2015 for abusing boys.
The brothers live alone in a property owned by a couple that is on the same plot as a private sports facility used by children.
Neighbours said the brothers live a largely solitary existence, occasionally dining in a local pub.
One said: ‘Most people know of Peter Ball’s past, but you very rarely see them out and about.’ In an email to friends, the brothers revealed that they are seeking to convert to Catholicism due to their ‘battering’ by the Church of England over its handling of the scandal.
They said they want to ‘live and worship in anonymity and without constant fear’. A source from the Catholic Diocese of Clifton, which includes the village where the brothers live, said it is still considering the application amid concerns that welcoming them could prompt criticism.
The former Bishop of Lewes (pictured in 2015, right), who previously boasted of being a confidant of Charles, sexually abused 18 young men over 30 years
The brothers previously moved to Somerset in 1997, when they controversially took over a property bought for them by Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall estate.
This came after Ball’s behaviour was first investigated by police in 1992, which resulted in him receiving a caution for gross indecency and resigning from his post as bishop.
Charles has insisted he had no personal involvement in the selection of the property and merely started the rental process.
A report by Dame Moira Gibb into the Ball case last year said the Duchy bought the property ‘specifically’ to house Ball and his brother before they moved out in 2011.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse is investigating whether Ball’s coterie of establishment friends aided his return to church life before his eventual conviction in 2015.
In evidence to the inquiry last week, Charles said he had been ‘deceived’ by Ball and he did not understand that his 1993 caution carried an admission of guilt.
Letters revealed the depth of their friendship, with the prince saying he wished he could ‘do more’ to help Ball while promising to ‘see off’ an unnamed person connected to the case.
Charles explained that he broke off the friendship after Ball’s conviction, claiming only then did he realise the true extent of his offending.
‘I wish I could do more’: What the prince wrote to his friend the bishop as allegations swirled around
Sept 1993, Ball to Charles
Life continues to be pretty nasty for me for, it seems that my accusers still want to continue their malicious campaign. Luckily they are beginning to show some of their fraudulent plans.
Dec 1994, Charles to Ball
I saw the Archbishop the other day and he told me he is trying to bring you back to a public ministry. I do hope this will be all right and suit you, if and when it happens….
Feb 1995, Charles to Ball
I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated. It’s appalling that the Archbishop has gone back on what he told me, before Xmas, that he was hoping to restore you to some form of Ministry in the Church.
I suspect you are absolutely right – it is due to fear of the media….If it is any consolation, the Archbishop has written me a letter (between you and me) in which it is also clear that he is frightened of the press – what he calls ‘public perception’, which in fact, perception of events and characters based entirely on lies, invention, speculation and sensation.
Dec 1995, Ball to Charles
The young man who accused me keeps on harassing. The last was a few weeks back with a fax, threatening to say more, when he has agreed not to and ending with the words ‘Your never forgiving brother in Christ’. That is both vile and blasphemous and oh that the police and CPS had seen and known from the beginning the nature of the young man. How I wish the Archbishop or someone would tell them.
April 1996, Ball to Charles
And I can honestly share the pain of it all having tried to break the crippling and unchristian powers of the ecclesiastical set up, and then being deserted in my hour of need.
June 1996, Charles to Ball
…I am so glad that [X] has been in touch as I requested. I pray the Duchy will be able to find something suitable for you both in due course, but it may take a little time to locate it! I long to see you both settled somewhere that suits you and gives you peace and tranquility – and not too far from here so you can come over more easily…
March 1997, Charles to Ball
[X] tells me that your house has been bought successfully – it looks rather nice – and I only hope the rent won’t be too bad!
I can’t bear it that the frightful, terrifying man is on the loose again and doing his worst… I was visiting the vicar… and we were enthusing about you and your brother and he then told me that he had heard that this ghastly man was up to his dastardly tricks again…. I’ll see off this horrid man if he tries anything again.
Aug 2001, Charles to Ball
I do however firmly believe that one day people will be forced to signing your resignation deed but, as you have been advised, I daresay that the establishment will close ranks and you will get nowhere. But how outrageous that now these people say sorry – and only in private….
Dec 2001, Charles to Ball
I saw [ ] the other day…he mentioned that you were thinking of going to the Archbishop and seemed a bit anxious about it… I daresay by now you will have approached the Archbishop but in your letter you so kindly asked me whether I had any objections – something which you certainly didn’t need to do.
The only thing I would say is that unless you really need to go to the Archbishop of Canterbury – for financial reasons particularly – I would have thought it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie…
Oct 2009, Ball to Charles
I am now nearly a broken man, because of what the Church has put me through after seventeen years of serving in retirement. They have smashed me with the bully of an assessor -…from a Child Protection Officer and no pastoral care, except two nice letters from the Archbishop. Suddenly, I am not allowed to baptise, or go to any parish without informing the Church Warden that I had a caution all those years back…
Ball included a letter that set out he was being risk assessed.
May 2010, Ball to Charles
…the horror that has come to me from the Bishop of Chichester with the Archbishop’s obvious hand in it. I have been told that I may not minister at all when we move, nor may I worship anywhere without signing a Declaration for the Protection of Children.
May 2012, Ball to Charles
Writes to say that the police are re-opening the investigation and are to question him. He says: ‘I thought it had been fully examined twenty years ago.’
July 2012, Ball to Charles
Life is ‘almost unbearable. I am being pursued and persecuted. In ways which it would not be discreet to enlarge on, though I am sure that you can guess their source and virulence’.
Dec 2012, Ball to Charles
Ball wrote to thank the Prince of Wales for phoning him, writing in the letter that the affair of twenty years ago had been ‘stirred up’ again by Lambeth.
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