At the Old Bailey in London today, Peter Ball, former Bishop of Gloucester and Lewes has been sentenced to 32 months in prison, including 15 months for indecent assaults against 18 people.
Following sentencing, the Church of England has issued this statement in which it expresses, “deep shame and regret” and apologises “unreservedly to those survivors of Peter Ball’s abuse and pay tribute to their bravery in coming forward and also the long wait for justice that they have endured.”
Peter Ball retired to the Diocese of Bath and Wells in 1997 and held permission to officiate here. Our own statement on this below:
Our records show that Bishop Peter Ball was granted Permission to Officiate (PTO) as a retired member of clergy in Bath and Wells in 1997.
In 2009 the Diocese of Bath and Wells became aware of concerns being raised about his conduct in other dioceses as part of a police enquiry. In response to those concerns, Peter Ball was placed on a written agreement. This restricted his ministry and stated he could have no unsupervised contact with children. In 2010 this PTO was not renewed.
We are not aware of any complaints against Peter Ball between 1997 and 2010.
Following sentencing of Peter Ball today (7 October) the Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt Revd Peter Hancock says,
“It is now clear that the PTO should never have been granted in 1997. Since that time, much more robust, victim-centred policies and procedures have been put in place but this will be of little comfort to Peter Ball’s victims and all others involved this case. I apologise unreservedly that he was able to continue to operate as a retired member of clergy in Bath and Wells during this time.
“We very much welcome the independent review and the fact that the report of the review, including a detailed account of how the case was handled within the church, will be published. The Church of England clearly has questions to address and lessons to be learned from its handling of the case.
“The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. There can be no excuse for such abuses and we must remain vigilant and robust to ensure they cannot happen.”
On Monday the Church of England announced in a statement that the Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball.
There will be people living in Bath and Wells who will be distressed by this issue. We pray for them and encourage all those impacted to seek advice.
The Church of England has worked with the NSPCC to set up a confidential helpline. Tel: 0800 389 5344. Or see the diocese’s Safeguarding pages for more information.