SURVIVORS of abuse by the disgraced former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball have called for a police investigation into whether Lord Carey concealed evidence of Ball’s crimes.
In a letter to The Times on Wednesday, Phil Johnson and the Revd Graham Sawyer identify themselves as survivors of abuse by Peter Ball. In the wake of the independent review carried out by Dame Moira Gibb, published on Thursday of last week, and its strong criticism of Lord Carey’s actions when he was Archbishop of Canterbury, the survivors write: “The police must investigate whether Lord Carey of Clifton deliberately concealed evidence.
“If so,” they continue, “Lord Carey must forfeit his right to sit in the House of Lords. It is unacceptable that someone involved in concealing evidence of criminality should have a role in making laws for others.”
They also call for independent oversight of safeguarding in the Church of England, and the mandatory reporting of any suspicion of abuse to the authorities.
Shortly after the publication of the Gibb report, An Abuse of Faith, Lord Carey issued an apology and resigned from his position as an honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford.
The 81-page report sets out in detail the events and circumstances leading up to, surrounding, and following the arrest and imprisonment of Ball, who received a three-year sentence in October 2015, having admitted to a series of indecent assaults and the abuse of 18 young men aged 17-25. One of his victims took his own life. Ball, who is 85, was released in February after serving 16 months of his sentence.
The report criticises the conduct of several senior Church of England figures — in particular, Lord Carey, who, it says, failed to respond to repeated expressions of concern and allegations against Bishop Ball — most notably those of the late Neil Todd, who was repeatedly abused by the bishop during the 1980s and ’90s.
In a statement on the report, which he described as “harrowing”, Archbishop Welby said that the Church had “colluded and concealed” rather than acted to help survivors to come forward; and he repeated an “unreserved apology” for this.
“This is inexcusable and shocking behaviour, and, although Dame Moira notes that most of the events took place many years ago, and does not think that the Church now would conduct itself in the ways described, we can never be complacent: we must learn lessons.”PAStood down: Lord Carey, who resigned as an honorary assistant bishop in Oxford diocese last week
A copy of a letter to Lord Carey, requesting that he “carefully consider” relinquishing his title as honorary assistant bishop, was leaked online on Thursday morning. The existence of the correspondence was later confirmed in a statement from the Bishop of Oxford, Dr Steven Croft, who said that he had agreed to meet Lord Carey in the coming days.
Another statement from Dr Croft, on Monday, confirmed that Lord Carey had resigned. “Lord Carey has accepted the criticisms made of him in the Gibb review and has apologised to the victims of Peter Ball.
“Along with many others, I have been deeply distressed to read Dame Moira Gibb’s report with its narrative of the abuse perpetrated by Peter Ball which remained hidden for so long. I hope that the focus of attention will continue to be on the survivors of abuse and offering to them the care and support they need.”
Receiving the report on behalf of Archbishop Welby, on Thursday of last week, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, who is the lead bishop on safeguarding, said: “Having read the report, I am appalled and deeply disturbed by its contents. . . Today is a reminder of how we have failed, and this report provides robust recommendations for how we can improve our safeguarding practice.”
Ball had continued to abuse young boys and men sexually and physically for his own gratification, under the pretence of providing spiritual enlightenment, for the duration of his ministry as monk, priest, and, later, bishop, the report says. He had been involved in founding and running monastic religious communities since 1960, when concerns were first raised about his behaviour — including reports of praying naked on the chapel floor, self-flagellation, and the physical and sexual harassment and abuse of others, including schoolboys.
The Church’s “trivialisation” of such allegations, together with its naïve, prescriptive, and prejudiced attitude towards homosexuality, were in part to blame for its repeated failure to acknowledge and conduct a proper investigation into the exploitation carried out by Ball throughout his ministry, the report says.
It describes how, in October 1992, Mr Todd, after attempting to take his own life, disclosed the abuse to a “Mr A”, who passed on the allegations to the Bishop of Chichester at the time, the late Dr Eric Kemp, who subsequently briefed Lord Carey. It was not until Mr Todd attempted to take his life for a second time, however, that his worried parents contacted Gloucester Police. This eventually led to a Metropolitan Police investigation into the allegations.
Lambeth Palace later issued a press statement acknowledging the investigations. It stated that Lord Carey had instructed Bishop Ball to “rest” from his official duties, and was praying for him. There was no mention of survivors, and it said: “It must be emphasized that no charges have been brought against the Bishop, and the allegations about him are unsubstantiated. Moreover, the Bishop has a proven record of outstanding pastoral work, particularly amongst young people.”
In 1993, Ball stood down as Bishop of Gloucester after his arrest and caution for gross indecency. After the news of his arrest, Lambeth Palace received seven letters containing “potentially disturbing information” about Ball, but released only one of them during that first police investigation. Lord Carey chose not to place Ball on the Lambeth caution list — which names clerics of questionable suitability — and during a CRB check of Ball in 2004, no evidence of the police caution was found to have been recorded.
Dame Moira said on Thursday: “It is perfectly possible that the course of events would have been altered had those letters been handed over. It was deeply inappropriate that the Church did not hand them over at that time.”
Bishop Hancock said: “It was disgraceful that the Church consistently and completely failed those survivors at that time.”
Mr Todd took his own life in 2012, after the allegations against Ball resurfaced. This led to an investigation by Sussex Police, Operation Dunhill. Lord Carey had played down previous concerns, allowed Ball to continue his ministry, and even provided funds to assist Ball during this time, the report says.
Both Lord Carey and Lord Williams, who was Archbishop when the police investigation into Ball was conducted in 2012, have apologised.
Lord Carey states: “I accept the criticisms made of me. I apologise to the victims of Peter Ball. I believed Peter Ball’s protestations and gave too little credence to the vulnerable young men and boys behind those allegations. I regret that after Peter Ball was cautioned I did not place his name on the Lambeth list.”
While Lord Williams had “inherited a confused situation” from his predecessor, and started the process that led to Ball’s arrest and imprisonment, he had been too slow, and “missed the opportunity to review and clarify” the case, the report says.
Lord Williams acknowledged this in his apology. “It is clear that I did not give adequate priority to sorting out the concerns and allegations surrounding Peter Ball at the earliest opportunity. I recognise that such a delay is likely to have increased the pressure and distress experienced by the survivors of his abuse and I am sincerely sorry for this.”
The report also criticises other senior church figures, including Ball’s predecessor as Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd John Yates, who was then working at Lambeth Palace, as well as Peter Ball’s idenitical twin brother, the Rt Revd Michael Ball, who conducted a “manipulative” campaign to allow his brother to continue his ministry.
The report considers evidence that, on occasion, Peter Ball stood in for his twin brother. “It appears to us extraordinary that a bishop should, at best, be so careless as to allow himself to be impersonated, and particularly to be impersonated by a former bishop who had resigned in the circumstances detailed above. However, the Church has considered these matters and has taken no further action. That may be appropriate in the light of Bishop Michael Ball’s age, and status as a retired bishop.”
The report dismisses allegations that any member of the royal family intervened on Peter Ball’s behalf. “Ball himself, both in his correspondence and in his public statements, sought to exploit his contact with members of the Royal Family in order to bolster his position, particularly in the eyes of Lord Carey and others from whom he hoped to receive sympathetic treatment.
“We have reviewed all the relevant material including the correspondence passing between the Prince of Wales and Ball held by the Church and found no evidence that the Prince of Wales or any other member of the Royal Family sought to intervene at any point in order to protect or promote Ball.”
The report also notes of Peter Ball: “His decision to withhold his co-operation with this review does not sit well with [his] declarations [of remorse].”SWNSBrought to book: Peter Ball arriving at Taunton Magistrates Court in May 2014
Presenting the report, Dame Moira said: “Peter Ball abused his faith and his Church, appearing outwardly as a good and holy man while actively harming others. He abused the faith that people rightly had in him as a leader in the Church, and most importantly he abused the faith of those who sought spiritual guidance from him, and instead found hurt, deceit, and manipulation.”
These “shocking” acts were compounded by the failure of the Church to “respond appropriately” to numerous concerns raised by survivors and others, including those who had known and worked with Ball, she said.
Her report sets out 11 recommendations for the Church, both to support the complex needs of survivors properly, and to prevent further abuse. This includes reviewing its safeguarding procedures, as well as the responsibilities of the National Safeguarding Team and the Lambeth, Bishopthorpe, and Archbishops’ lists.
Bishop Hancock said that a copy of the report had been sent to all the bishops, and that survivors would be invited to tell of their experiences, including the family of Mr Todd. He also referred to new safeguarding legislation and updated guidance from the House of Bishops.
“For the survivors, it may feel this is all too late. I am personally aware from my meetings with individual survivors in the course of my work that they live with the effects of this abuse for their whole life. I once again offer them my wholehearted apology.”
Interviewed on BBC Radio 4 on Friday, the Bishop of Crediton, the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally, who was appointed to lead the implementation of reforms called for in the independent Elliott Review, said that she was “frustrated” that the Church had not improved its safeguarding measures more rapidly.
“We are trying to get a better understanding of abuse, preventing and responding, and we are beginning to get better training. That training is rolling out not just for our volunteers but also for our bishops.
“I do share the frustration of survivors; I understand that they think that we are not moving fast enough. The Church of England is quite a complex organisation and while that is not an excuse we do have to understand that we started far back and are working hard.
“We have to recognise that the report was commissioned by the Church of England; so we are saying that we want to learn, we recognise that we have failed and we are seeking to try and move forward.”
A “change of culture” was required, but this would take time, she said: “We do need to move quicker to ensure that survivors are responded to quickly, appropriately, and compassionately, and that we create safe environments that protect people as far as we are able.”
But David Greenwood, an executive member of MACSAS, which supports survivors of ministry abuse, said that while the report had “shone a light” onto the “shocking behind the scenes activity” of the C of E, the group did not agree with its recommendations.
“The assumption is that if the Church alters and enforces its procedures more strictly all will be well. Here at MACSAS we have investigated and documented previous attempted cover-ups and safeguarding failures.
“We regularly have survivors contact us complaining about being ignored by the Church when attempts are made to report. This institutional behaviour is deeply ingrained in the Church.
“In short, the Church cannot be allowed to continue dealing with complaints of child sex abuse. These complaints must be dealt with by an independent body which will provide appropriate and supportive responses, recommend steps to support the survivor, help with making sure a police report is made and that advice is offered.”
Chris Butler, who joined an Evangelical church at the age of 16, said that spiritual abuse should also be named in law, separately homophobic or psychological abuse, he said, because it was also about religion.
He told the BBC Radio 4 Sunday programme that he had experienced spiritual abuse over his sexuality over 12 years: “I spent a large chunk of my life in an environment where I was constantly being told that I wasn’t normal; my feelings, my orientation were basically abhorrent, and I have started to realise later in life that one of the big effects was being denied the basic human right to love.”
But Dr Alison Gray, a consultant psychiatrist and an associate priest at Great Malvern Priory, said that spiritual abuse should be recognised as a parallel to domestic abuse.
“I don’t think it is one of the fundamental categories of abuse — such as emotional, physical, sexual, financial, and neglect, which are the core categories — it is more of a secondary organising factor. Those others forms of abuse take place within a spiritual setting, where the specifics come into play, for instance the use of spiritual or religious text to justify wrongdoing.”
Gibb recommendations in full.
1. The House of Bishops should reaffirm and take steps to demonstrate the individual and collective accountability of bishops for the safety and protection of everyone within the Church.
2. The Church should make arrangements that would enable those abused by Peter Ball, who wish to do so, to meet and share their experiences and views with senior clergy. That offer should be extended to those bereaved by the death of Neil Todd.
3. The Church’s services to survivors of clerical abuse should be designed and resourced to take account of: a) the complex and enduring nature of the harm caused by clerical abuse; b) the need for specialist victim support services.
4. The Church, recognising that it still has further to travel in relation to adult victims of abuse, should make a particular effort to secure a fuller understanding and more consistent good practice in that area.
5. The Church should ensure that the responsibility for delivering robust and reliable safeguarding arrangements is clearly located in the dioceses.
6. The Church should: a) establish clear specifications and minimum national standards for the safeguarding services that dioceses should provide, taking account of the issues identified in this review; b) support the dioceses to evaluate the resources required to meet those standards; c) review and enhance as necessary the arrangements for supporting the Lead Bishop for Safeguarding.
7. The Church should review its organisational arrangements so that, for safeguarding purposes, all Church bodies come within the relevant diocesan arrangements where safeguarding capacity and expertise can be both concentrated and deployed most efficiently.
8. The role and responsibilities of the National Safeguarding Team should clearly reflect an emphasis on planning and supporting continuous improvement in diocesan safeguarding services.
9. The Church should develop: a) a model of best practice for deciding when and how to carry out reviews of historical abuse; b) arrangements for disseminating the learning from high-profile historic cases.
10. The Church should review the arrangements for the Lambeth, Bishopthorpe, and Archbishops’ Lists. This should include making provision for the Lists: a) to be accessed directly by Diocesan Safeguarding Advisers; b) to include non-ordained members of religious communities and lay employees who have been disciplined or convicted of abusive conduct, or for some parallel arrangement to be introduced.
11. The Church should: a) establish clear and consistent national guidance for granting and reviewing PTO [Permission To Officiate] in the case of clerics who have been the subject of substantiated safeguarding concerns; b) introduce arrangements for a national register of clergy with PTO; c) ensure that relevant safeguarding arrangements are applied consistently to retired clergy who are exercising ministry through a PTO; d) audit those arrangements to enable a regular report to the House of Bishops
Report in full here.
Leader Comment; Extract; Press