A PROPER investigation into the abuse carried out by the disgraced former Bishop of Gloucester, Peter Ball, was delayed for 20 years because the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, failed to act on a “very detailed complaint” sent to him in 1992, Justice Goddard, the head of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), heard on Wednesday.
Bishop Ball finally faced justice last year, and was sentenced to just under three years in October 2015, after he admitted a string of indecent assaults and the abuse of 18 young men.
The allegation against Lord Carey was made by the national manager for abuse claims at the law firm Slater and Gordon, Richard Scorer. Mr Scorer represents 14 victims of abuse who have been given core-participant status at the IICSA. He made his comments at a preliminary hearing of the inquiry’s investigation into the Church of England and Church in Wales, which was heard at the Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday.
Mr Scorer was making a renewed application for three of his other clients to also be made core participants. The three, identified as A10, A11, and A13, had had their previous applications for core-participant status rejected on the grounds that they were over 18 at the time they were abused.
At public inquiries, core participants are entitled to legal representation, can make opening and closing remarks, are entitled to disclosure of relevant documents in advance, and can cross-examine witnesses or suggest lines of questioning to the Counsel to the Inquiry.
In arguing for core-participant status for the three additional victims, Mr Scorer said that “there is no diocese in the Church of England that has given rise to so many allegations and so many concerns about its response than the diocese of Chichester”. Bishop Ball, he said, abused young people as well as children, and it was important that the inquiry took a rounded view of the Church’s response.
Patricia Leonard, a barrister who is representing seven core-participant victims, made a renewed application for core-participant status for an additional victim who was also over 18 at the time of the abuse.
She told the hearing that the victim, identified as C8, was another of Bishop Ball’s victims who was over the age of 18 at the time of the abuse. “Although he was a young adult at the time, the law was that he was unable to consent,” she told Justice Goddard, explaining that the age of consent at the time was 21.
Justice Goddard also heard from Desmond Brown QC, representing Dr Andrew Chandler of the George Bell Institute at the University of Chichester; and the Dean of Christ Church, Oxford, the Very Revd Dr Martyn Percy.
Mr Brown said that the two had applied to be core participants to “give Bishop Bell the voice that he was effectively denied in the diocesan investigation”.
Last year, the diocese of Chichester caused controversy when it announced that it had settled a claim from an unnamed individual, who later went public using the pseudonym Carol, who had alleged that they had been abused, as a child, by Bishop Bell.
Mr Brown criticised the diocesan investigation, and said that a witness statement had been prepared by Bishop Bell’s surviving chaplain, Canon Adrian Carey, who “for a number of reasons . . . contends that it was impossible for the abuse to have taken place. As a resident of the house, he would have seen if a child was present.”
Justice Goddard said that she would give her rulings on the core-participant applications in writing before Easter.
The core participants include victims, police, and prosecutors, as well as the C of E, the Church in Wales, and Ecclesiastical Insurance. Peter Ball himself is also a core participant. He did not attend but was represented by a lawyer.
Nigel Giffin QC, for the C of E, said that the inquiry would be a “difficult process” for the people involved, “particularly for survivors of abuse sharing their stories”, and also for the Church as it “hears where it has failed in its responsibility”.
A further preliminary hearing would take place “before the summer recess”, when decisions would be made about whether the full hearings will be televised. The substantive hearings are expected to begin in the autumn.