England

Prince Charles to give evidence at Peter Ball abuse inquiry

Prince Charles and Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball - April 1993 Image copyright Rex Features
Image caption Prince Charles was photographed with Peter Ball when he was the Bishop of Gloucester in 1993

The Prince of Wales will give a written statement to a public inquiry about a paedophile bishop next week.

It will be read during the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) investigation into the Anglican Church as it focuses on Peter Ball.

The 86-year-old was jailed for 32 months in October 2015 for offences against 18 teenagers and men.

Prince Charles exchanged a series of letters with Ball, whose Gloucester diocese covers his Highgrove home.

The former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester carried out the abuse between the 1970s and 1990s.

He was released from jail in February 2017 after serving 16 months.

The written statement from Prince Charles will be read on 27 July, at the end of a week-long case study on Ball.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Peter Ball was jailed for sex offences against teenagers and young men between the 1970s and 1990s

The inquiry is examining how the Church of England handled allegations of sexual abuse and has previously focused on the Diocese of Chichester - where Ball and several other convicted paedophile priests once officiated.

From next Monday it will investigate "whether there were inappropriate attempts by people of prominence to interfere in the criminal justice process after Ball was first accused of child sexual offences".

Ball's court case heard that a member of the royal family - who has never been named - was among a host of public figures who supported him when he avoided charges in 1993.

He boasted of his links to royalty and was said to be a confidant of Prince Charles, with an independent review finding he used his connections to boost his position.

Last year, the independent review by Dame Moira Gibb found senior figures in the Church of England "colluded" with Ball.

A Clarence House spokesman said: "IICSA has asked the Prince of Wales if he could help the part of their inquiry that deals with Mr Peter Ball.

"Whilst the Prince made it clear that he was unaware of Mr Ball's behaviour, he indicated that he was happy to volunteer context on his contact with Mr Ball if that would help."

Referring to the findings in the Gibb report, the Clarence House spokesman said it had "reviewed all the relevant material including the correspondence passing between the Prince of Wales and Ball held by the Church".

This review "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 spokesman said.

"The Crown Prosecution Service has publicly stated that it had neither received nor seen any correspondence from a member of the Royal Family when Ball was under investigation in 1992-93," he added.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey will also give evidence next week, along with The Reverend Graham Sawyer, who was abused by Ball as a teenager and waived his right to anonymity.

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