Church launches review of ex-Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball sex abuse case


The Church of England has launched a review into how it handled sex offence complaints made against an ex-bishop.

Former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball, 83, has admitted abusing 18 young men from the 1970s to 1990s.

He used religion as a "cloak" to groom his victims when they came to his home in Litlington, East Sussex.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned an independent report into how the Church dealt with the allegations, which emerged 22 years ago.

A Church of England spokesman said: "Since Peter Ball's guilty plea questions have been raised about the Church's handling of this case.

"As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has today commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded.

"The independent review will examine the Church of England's co-operation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner, identifying both good practice and shortcomings alike.

"It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors."

Ball accepted a caution for one act of gross indecency and resigned his post in 1993.

Despite several complaints against him, he was allowed to continue working for the church until 2010.

Sussex Police reopened the case in 2012 in response to a previous Church of England review and Ball was charged with a string of sex offences against teenage boys and young men.

Following his guilty pleas, the Church offered an "unreserved apology" to Ball's victims.

The Bishop of Durham, Rt Rev Paul Butler, commended their "bravery" saying the Church had "provided full co-operation" with the police.

Ball was Bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 to 1993.

Between 1977 and 1992 he misused his position in authority to "manipulate" 16 men for his own sexual gratification.

He also admitted indecently assaulting two men in their late teens between 1980 and 1983 and between 1990 and 1991.

He will be sentenced at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.