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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

C.10: Peter Ball’s return to ministry

284. The CPS, the police and Mr Todd believed Peter Ball’s resignation would put an end to his ministry and to his influence, and thereby the risk he posed to children and young men. That was not to be the case. Almost as soon as the ink was dry upon Peter Ball’s resignation, he and his brother began a campaign for Archbishop George Carey to exonerate him and restore him to ministry. This campaign continued, with frequent letters and conversations with senior staff at Lambeth Palace, for over 17 years. It only stopped with Peter Ball’s further arrest in 2012.

285. The evidence shows Archbishop Carey always intended to restore Peter Ball to some form of ministry at some point through the grant of permission to officiate. As Peter Ball said of their meeting on 7 April 1993, one month after his resignation:

“Archbishop George Carey called me to him at Canterbury. And sitting in a window looking out on the cathedral he made a solemn promise that the Church would not take any further action against me because I had been punished enough.”[1]

Following this, Bishop Michael Ball wrote to the Archbishop to thank him for his continuing faith in Peter Ball and his wish to see him minister again in some way in the future.[2]

286. Just six weeks after Peter Ball’s caution and resignation, the Archbishop told a group of evangelical bishops who supported Peter Ball that it was his “intention to see him in some retired ministry in the future, but there is still a lot of healing to be done”.[3]

287. Archbishop Carey told the Inquiry that he had been anxious to keep Peter Ball away from ministry for as long as possible.[4] However his correspondence shows that by July 1993 he was writing to Bishop Michael Ball about organising a “cautious return to ministry” for Peter Ball.[5] To the extent to which Archbishop Carey did postpone Peter Ball’s return to ministry, his reasons for doing so were to protect Peter Ball and the Church from negative publicity,[6] not out of concern for what he described as the “so-­called ‘victims’”[7] or to prevent future offending.[8] In June 1994 he wrote to Bishop Michael Ball:

“I have never disguised the fact that I have always longed for Peter to have a ministry in the Church again but the basic problem has always been balancing Peter’s desire to get cracking with questions about his health and, perhaps of equal importance, the credibility of the Church in the eyes of the public ... having said that, I have consistently said it has been my intention to restore Peter to ministry gradually.”

288. Archbishop Carey’s opinion that Peter Ball would return to ministry set the tone for everything that followed. The Archbishop’s then chaplain, Reverend Colin Fletcher, recalls they were “working all the time in a framework set by the Archbishop that assumed that Peter Ball would return to ministry at some stage in the future”.[9] Dr Andrew Purkis agreed the “direction of travel”  had been set by the Archbishop and so the best his advisers at Lambeth Palace could do was to make Peter Ball’s return to ministry as gradual and as far as possible into the future as they could.[10]

289. By September 1993, only six months after his resignation, Peter Ball was permitted to administer the eucharist privately in the convent in Truro. This was extended to small conferences and clergy retreats in July 1994.[11] Peter Ball and Bishop Michael Ball wrote often to Lambeth Palace to press for a public return to ministry. The tone of their letters led Dr Purkis to warn the Archbishop that Peter Ball was trying to manipulate him.[12] Reverend Fletcher, in June 1994 likewise concluded Peter Ball was “manipulative, status ridden and hypocritical (about money and obedience)”, and thought he put an “intolerable burden” on the Archbishop.[13]

290. In December 1993, the Church of England published an interim paper called Elements of Pastoral Practice – Allegations of Sexual Abuse by the Clergy,[14] reflecting the House of Bishops’ view that guidance was required to assist clergy in managing allegations of sexual abuse. Despite this developing understanding and knowledge of abuse by clergy, the need (i) to take steps to ensure it is dealt with effectively, and (ii) to respond sensitively and with compassion to those who had been subject to such abuse, did not impact upon the view of the Archbishop of Canterbury that Peter Ball should be returned to ministry. In May 1994 Bishop John Yates advised him of the options: the Archbishop taking responsibility for Peter Ball’s return to public ministry; allowing the decision to be taken at a diocesan level; or making it clear once and for all that he would never sanction a return to public ministry because “a bishop, once ‘disgraced’ in the media, has to accept that there is no way back”.[15] Presciently, Bishop Yates warned that, should the Archbishop grant Peter Ball a limited permission to officiate, he would use it as “a lever to extort more and more out of you, and perhaps other bishops, and you will have no peace”.

291. In Peter Ball’s correspondence with Lambeth Palace, he showed no remorse for his behaviour towards Mr Todd and the other complainants, victims and survivors. Instead, he sought to portray himself as the victim of the entire affair. He tried to minimise the nature of the charge against him and to persuade Archbishop Carey that he had done nothing wrong. He convinced himself, and sought to convince others, that he had been unjustly treated, in particular by being ‘forced’ to retire. He had no insight into the distress he had caused to others. He was supported throughout this correspondence by his brother who was also a diocesan bishop and a person of significant influence within the Church; “Both of them felt that Peter was more sinned against than sinning”.[16] Some senior staff at Lambeth Palace recognised Peter Ball’s manipulation of the situation and urged Archbishop Carey to stand up to him. With hindsight, Archbishop Carey accepted he should have acted more decisively and imposed a total ban on Peter Ball’s ministry.[17]

292. By October 1994, a plan was put in place by Archbishop Carey that Peter Ball would return to public ministry in the Diocese of Truro from January 1995.[18]

293. In November 1994, Peter Ball stayed with Archbishop Carey at Lambeth Palace.[19] He met with the Archbishop and Bishop Frank Sargeant (then Bishop at Lambeth, a senior clerical role of adviser to the Archbishop of Canterbury) to discuss the plan to return him to supervised ministry in the new year. At that meeting, Peter Ball requested the names of all those who had written letters of complaint about him to Lambeth Palace and Archbishop Carey agreed to provide them. Bishop Sargeant thought now this was “very bad practice”.[20] Even though the names and the letters had not been provided to the police, they were provided to Peter Ball without the consent of the writers. One letter was anonymous, but in the others, the writers’ names were revealed. Having considered them, Peter Ball said that none concerned him but he was worried in case the anonymous letter came from one particular person, whose name he provided.[21] Bishop Sargeant looked again to check whether there had been any letter from that person, and confirmed that there had not.[22]

294. It seems no thought was given to the fact that the Church was now aware of yet another individual from whom there may be allegations against Peter Ball. Nothing was done with this information.[23]

295. In anticipation of his return to ministry in early 1995, Peter Ball suggested that Archbishop Carey write to the complainants who had contacted Lambeth Palace, to tell them Peter Ball would be returning to ministry and to ask whether they thought it would be appropriate. He wanted to make sure they wouldn’t cause any trouble about it. However, Bishop Sargeant thought “the danger of doing this is they may say yes they do object and therefore we have lost the initiative”.[24] Archbishop Carey did not think they should contact people.

296. Despite this recognition by Archbishop Carey and his senior staff that Peter Ball’s return to ministry would be opposed by the complainants, victims and survivors, it is clear that the Archbishop determined the best way to avoid any impediment to Peter Ball’s return to ministry was not to tell them. This displays a lack of transparency and a disregard for the feelings of complainants, victims and survivors. This is particularly the case given that the national guidance issued by the House of Bishops about safeguarding identified that the Church expected “the exploitation of any relationship for self­-gratification will not be tolerated”.[25]

297. The time for Peter Ball’s return to ministry was “disconcertingly short”. Peter Ball’s approaches to the Church could best be described as wheedling. Further, there was nothing in the correspondence in which he indicated any real and consistent remorse for what had occurred much less any insight into the nature of his behaviour.[26]

Contact with the Church from persons of public prominence

298. As a result of Peter Ball’s status, and possibly at his request, Archbishop Carey began to receive letters pressing him to allow Peter Ball to return to both ministry either as a clergyman or as a bishop[27] almost as soon as he resigned.

299. Peter Ball had a significant number of friends and allies within the senior echelons of the clergy, including, for example, Lord Donald Coggan, a former Archbishop of Canterbury.[28] Many of these continued to support him and his cause even after his caution. For example, despite having access to the full report of Reverend Brian Tyler and his damning conclusion, Bishop Eric Kemp maintained unstinting support of Peter Ball. He wrote to Archbishop Carey that there was “a great deal of resentment ... that Peter has been excluded for so long, and ... they regard it as very unjust”.[29]

300. Peter Ball ensured that Lambeth Palace and Archbishop Carey were aware of his friendship with His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and, later, that he resided in a Duchy of Cornwall property.[30] He did so in the hope this would influence their treatment of him and, ultimately, ease his return to ministry.

301. In his evidence to the Inquiry, the Prince of Wales said Peter Ball occasionally wrote to him and he replied, believing it to be the polite thing to do. He said that, as with many other senior clergy, Peter Ball had been invited to give Holy Communion at his home.[31] The Inquiry reviewed the correspondence between Peter Ball and the Prince of Wales following Ball’s resignation,[32] the relevant portions of which were read at the hearings in July 2018. They indicate that Peter Ball viewed the Prince of Wales as a friend, and that the replies are suggestive of cordiality rather than mere politeness.

302. In August 1994, during Peter Ball’s campaign to return to ministry, the Prince of Wales’ private secretary met with Dr Purkis at Lambeth Palace and in the course of their discussions asked about Peter Ball. Dr Purkis tried to dampen any hopes of an early public rehabilitation.[33] On 11 November 1994, the Prince of Wales wrote to Peter Ball saying he had personally seen the Archbishop and had been told that the Archbishop was trying to bring Peter Ball back to public ministry.[34] The Prince of Wales has informed the Inquiry that he had seen the Archbishop at an event and had asked about Peter Ball. He recalled that the Archbishop told him that he was thinking of trying to bring Peter Ball back to a public ministry at some stage but there were some complications, which were not described.[35]

303. Archbishop Carey said that Peter Ball’s friendship with the Prince of Wales had not altered his approach towards Peter Ball at all.[36] He had a brief conversation with the Prince of Wales about Peter Ball but he did not suggest to the Prince of Wales that Peter Ball should return to public ministry.[37]

304. In February 1995, when Peter Ball had not yet returned to ministry, the Prince of Wales wrote:

“I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated. It’s appalling that the Archbishop has gone back on what he told me, before Xmas, that he was hoping to restore you to some form of Ministry in the Church. I suspect you are absolutely right – it is due to fear of the media ... If it is any consolation, the Archbishop has written me a letter (between you and me) in which it is also clear that he is frightened of the press – what he calls ‘public perception’, which in fact, perception of events and characters based entirely on lies, invention, speculation and sensation.”[38]

305. In June 1996, arrangements began for Peter Ball and Michael Ball to move to a home owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, the private estate of the Prince of Wales. The Prince of Wales informed the Inquiry that he had mentioned Peter Ball’s situation to the Duchy, which thereafter handled the rental arrangements. The correspondence shows the Duchy purchased the house for the specific purpose of renting it to Peter Ball and his brother.[39] The Ball brothers were involved in the selection of the property[40] and the Prince of Wales was kept informed about its progress.[41]

306. While the Prince of Wales has stated that he took no position on Peter Ball’s return to ministry, he and his private secretary enquired about Peter Ball within Lambeth Palace. He should have recognised the potential effect that his apparent support for Peter Ball could have had upon decision-making within Lambeth Palace.

307. The Prince of Wales’ evidence was that he did not understand the nature or extent of Peter Ball’s offending until his conviction in 2015, although the allegations by Mr Todd and AN-A117 had been reported in a number of national newspapers at the time of the 1992– 1993 investigation.[42] He said he had been told by Peter Ball that the caution was the result of a false complaint from an individual who was persecuting him.[43] When writing to the Prince of Wales, Peter Ball maintained he had been the victim of a “malicious campaign”.[44]Peter Ball said that he wished that “the police and the CPS had seen and known from the beginning the nature of the young man”.[45]

308. The Prince of Wales has stated that he was not aware of the significance or impact of the caution that Peter Ball had accepted, and was not sure that he was even told that Peter Ball had been cautioned at the time. He was aware that there was a police investigation but Peter Ball had told him that the police and the CPS had not taken any action. He did not know of the exact details of the allegations and did not try to find out:

“In the 1980s and 1990s there was a presumption that people such as Bishops could be taken at their word and, as a result of the high office they held, were worthy of trust and confidence.”[46]

309. Lord Lloyd remained a firm supporter of Peter Ball. He knew Archbishop Carey through their membership of a private dining club called ‘Nobody’s Friends’ which met twice a year, often in Lambeth Palace.[47] He wanted to meet the Archbishop in October 1994, to discuss possibilities for Peter Ball’s return to ministry but instead met with Bishop Sargeant. Already aware that Archbishop Carey was planning for Peter Ball’s return to ministry,[48] he proposed a parish in Portsmouth, for which a mutual friend Edward Nugee QC held the patronage. Bishop Sargeant concluded:

“This appears to be an old boy arrangement and there is a powerful group of friends who are coming to Peter’s aid.”[49]

310. Lord Lloyd did not agree with this description of the offer. Although Peter Ball had resigned, Lord Lloyd thought he could not be left with nothing whatsoever to do; “no decent employer would do that”.[50] This was notwithstanding Peter Ball’s caution and Lord Lloyd’s knowledge of the circumstances of the offending. Bishop Sargeant concluded that Lord Lloyd viewed “two men being together in the nude and holding each other as being not very serious ... he takes no account of the fact that it was a bishop/member of religious community relationship”.[51]

311. Archbishop Carey said in evidence that it was inevitable that the support of persons of public prominence “affected our attitude to Ball’s return to ministry. The fact that people wanted to use him in ministry demonstrated that he could have an effective ministry in future.”[52]

312. The decision whether Peter Ball should have any ministry, restricted or otherwise, was a decision for the Church and was being managed by Archbishop Carey. He agreed that those writing and speaking in support of Peter Ball were not in possession of all of the information, and certainly were not in possession of as much information as he was. When pressed on whether, in those circumstances, he should properly have had regard to their representations he could only reply that in the absence of a clear understanding of the circumstances of Peter Ball’s caution he could not disabuse them of their belief that he had done nothing wrong.[53] That should not have mattered. Archbishop Carey should not have been concerned about or swayed by the fear of upsetting Peter Ball’s supporters or the Ball brothers.

313. The Archbishops’ Council has accepted that the Church’s lack of candour and openness, at the time of and following Peter Ball’s caution, allowed for such individuals to support Peter Ball in ignorance of the facts that were known within the Church about his offending.[54]

The grant of permission to officiate

314. In 1995 there was no Church of England policy dealing with the grant of permission to officiate to those who had been convicted of sexual offences, nor any professional safeguarding advice available to Archbishop Carey on this matter.[55] Nonetheless the Church’s approach to Peter Ball’s ‘rehabilitation’ was “wholly inappropriate”.[56]

315. Peter Ball was granted permission to officiate on 1 March 1995, less than two years after his caution and resignation. It was granted by the Archbishop of Canterbury for two parishes within the Diocese of Truro,[57] initially for six months but extended for a further three years in September 1995.

316. There has been some significant confusion around how, and under what powers, Archbishop Carey granted permission to officiate to Peter Ball. Permission to officiate is usually only granted by the diocesan bishop in the relevant diocese. This would have been Bishop Michael Ball as Bishop of Truro, but Archbishop Carey did not think it would be right for Peter Ball’s brother to grant permission to officiate and there had been some resistance to that suggestion.[58] The Archbishop of Canterbury can grant permission to officiate only in his own diocese of Canterbury or more generally by way of a provincial licence, often used for foreign clergy.[59]

317. Bishop Sargeant doubts whether the Archbishop had any power to grant permission to officiate to Peter Ball but thought the staff at Lambeth Palace were “bending over backwards” to find a way for the Archbishop to do so.[60] No risk assessment was carried out before Peter Ball was allowed to return to ministry.[61] No restrictions were placed upon his ministry to prevent him from having unsupervised access to children and young people.

318. The only way in which the geographic restriction on Peter Ball’s permission to officiate could be monitored or enforced was by relying on the local parish priest.[62] Any ministry outside those parishes was to be approved in advance by Lambeth Palace.[63] Archbishop Carey accepted that he and his team failed with supervision.[64] Within two months, the limited grant of permission to officiate was being interpreted by many as a provincial permission to preach from the Archbishop of Canterbury, so that Peter Ball could officate more widely.[65] It was certainly seen by Lambeth Palace as permission to preach throughout the southern province.[66]

Ministry in schools

319. Peter Ball consistently sought to exercise his ministry as widely as possible because he believed he had gifts that other people did not have.[67] In particular, he began to take services and undertake matters which only a bishop can perform, such as presiding at confirmations.

320. This permission was granted only to officiate at two particular schools because Peter Ball had personal links with them.[68] Peter Ball was likewise granted permission to conduct confirmations in schools with which he had a connection.[69] Archbishop Carey now accepts that the fact Peter Ball was friends with the head teacher at a school has no bearing on the extent to which he posed a risk, but he and those at Lambeth Palace did not think about the risk he posed at the time.[70]

321. Over time, these permissions were interpreted by Peter Ball as a carte blanche regarding schools work.[71] He had officiated at about 20–25 confirmations by the time that Lambeth Palace found out in 2000 that he had been preaching regularly.[72] Archbishop Carey was “deeply shocked” that without reference to Lambeth Palace, Peter Ball had confirmed young people and preached in schools on such a wide basis.[73] Peter Ball denies having ever accepted invitations without first seeking permission from Lambeth Palace.[74]

322. The allegations received by Lambeth Palace in 1992, which were denied by Peter Ball, included allegations that Peter Ball had misused his links with schools he sought to attend. There were allegations that he asked a boy in his care to share a bed with him naked[75] and asked another to masturbate in front of him during a counselling session on school premises.[76] In the light of these allegations it was inappropriate for Archbishop Carey to allow him to minister in these or any other schools. It was not sufficient that the Archbishop was “pretty sure” there would be proper supervision and no opportunity for “impropriety”.[77] There is no evidence of any measures being put in place by the Archbishop or anyone on behalf of the Church to ensure there was supervision, or that the schools were provided with information to enable them to put proper measures in place. Notwithstanding Peter Ball’s caution, he was allowed to perform episcopal functions before impressionable children, enabling him to present himself as a man who could be trusted and to ingratiate himself with staff and students.

323. Archbishop Carey did not think they warned the schools beforehand about Peter Ball’s caution, although he would have expected them to be aware because of the press coverage. He wrote in May 1995 to grant Peter Ball permission to attend a mission held in Cardiff which would involve preaching to young people. His only concern was, again, with press coverage. The letter would not have been sufficient to inform the reader that Peter Ball may have posed a risk if he was left alone with young people:

“I would also urge you to ‘ring fence’ Peter discreetly so that he has proper support; and that he does not minister alone to young people – a matter that would be seriously misunderstood by the Press.”[78]

324. In 2001, the issue of confirmations was discussed at Lambeth Palace. Mr Andrew Nunn recorded that “the Archbishop said that it had never been his intention that PB should do work in schools”.[79] Having reviewed the correspondence for the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2001, to determine what had been said over the years by Lambeth Palace, Mr Nunn concluded Archbishop Carey’s message was confusing and contradictory as to whether Peter Ball was permitted to officiate at schools.[80] Staff from Lambeth Palace had sometimes tried to stop such preaching taking place. On one occasion Bishop Richard Llewellin (then Bishop at Lambeth and chief of staff to the Archbishop of Canterbury) discouraged Peter Ball from preaching but the approach of Lambeth Palace was not always consistent.[81]

325. Peter Ball resisted the attempt to limit his work in schools. Rather than persisting, Lambeth Palace backed down. Their approach was that as there had been no problem thus far, Peter Ball should be allowed to continue[82] with “business as usual”.[83]

The statement to the House of Bishops in 1997

326. In November 1996 Archbishop Carey met Peter Ball for lunch. He agreed to tell the next House of Bishops meeting that Peter Ball could exercise “a full ministry” and that they may use him in their dioceses if they wished.[84] This was in the context of the forthcoming retirement of Bishop Michael Ball as Bishop of Truro, which would emphasise the difference in their ability to preach, teach and act as a bishop in retirement.[85]

327. Bishop Sargeant advised the Archbishop about the form of such a statement. When doing so he recorded what he recalled to be the prevailing and mistaken attitude at Lambeth Palace:

“it is to be remembered that he was never actually convicted of any offence and that he acted in the interests of the Church to his own detriment”.[86]

328. Archbishop Carey’s handwritten annotation indicates his intention had been that (i) Peter Ball should have a ministry that was “priestly rather than episcopal”, (ii) if Peter Ball was to be used for ministry, the Bishop should inform the Archbishop of Canterbury or York of that fact, and (iii) if they were to allow him to provide ministry in schools or with young people “for his sake, supervise”.[87]

329. In January 1997, as agreed, Archbishop Carey made a public statement to the House of Bishops that Peter Ball could minister everywhere without reference to him. However, he said if Peter Ball was to perform episcopal acts such as confirmation then it would be wise to inform (but not seek permission from) the Archbishop, in case there would be any difficulties.[88]

330. At Peter Ball’s request, a form of words was circulated to bishops after the meeting, intended to represent the Archbishop’s statement. It was prepared by Peter Ball and agreed by Bishop Sargeant and Archbishop Carey (who was out of the country):[89]

“Bishop Peter Ball may now be regarded in the same way as any other retired bishop, but should he be invited to do any public episcopal acts, for his own protection, it would be helpful if you would let me know.”[90]

331. This further reduction of Archbishop Carey’s limited ability to exercise some form of supervision over Peter Ball’s ministry was inappropriate. The diocesan bishops, whose responsibility it was to decide whether it was appropriate to permit Peter Ball to accept invitations, had nowhere near the amount of information held by Lambeth Palace about the extent of Peter Ball’s past.

332. Archbishop Carey denied this was an instruction to diocesan bishops to use Peter Ball, but simply an expression of his approval for their doing so, if they wished.[91] This is not how it seemed to Bishop David Bentley, Peter Ball’s successor as Bishop of Gloucester. He had consistently refused to allow Peter Ball to officiate in the Diocese of Gloucester, even when pressed by Ian Beer (a head teacher and friend of Peter Ball who wished him to undertake services related to his family).[92] In August 2000, having refused again, Bishop Bentley received a letter from Archbishop Carey to emphasise that Peter Ball had “my provincial authority to exercise non-episcopal ministries and I really don’t think you have any canonical right to stop him. But I will not insist on this because it will only look very bad for the Church if I pressed the matter.”[93]

333. Archbishop Carey denied he had placed Bishop Bentley under any pressure.[94] When they met to discuss the matter, he ultimately supported Bishop Bentley in his decision to refuse.[95] It does however demonstrate that the Archbishop of Canterbury had endeavoured to remove impediments to Peter Ball’s officiating.

334. In any event, the Archbishop’s statement granted Peter Ball the right to undertake functions reserved for bishops. It also represented a public and unequivocal statement in support of Peter Ball, less than four years after he had received the caution. Such a statement was unheard of.[96] It was made because Peter Ball was, in Archbishop Carey’s view, a bishop who had many gifts and who many people were “clamouring” to use.[97]

335. Archbishop Carey made repeated reference in his evidence to the Inquiry of Peter Ball’s skills and his gifts. However, a person’s skills or ‘value’ to an institution cannot affect the assessment of the risk they pose, nor justify inappropriate decisions on matters of safeguarding.

336. The Archbishops’ Council said that this public statement (compounded by the failure to take decisive action or make a clear statement at the time of the caution) was “moral cowardice”.[98] Peter Ball was allowed to use the Archbishop’s public vote of confidence to support his narrative, namely that he was now “completely restored” because there had been “some new recognition of his accuser’s malice”.[99] One member of clergy, aware of the Archbishop’s statement, said:

“I gather now that the Archbishop is completely satisfied that the charges made against him were groundless and malicious, and that the police agree.”[100]

337. While Archbishop Carey tried to correct such misconceptions, many believed that he was in fact an ally of Peter Ball.

Permission to officiate under Archbishop Rowan Williams

338. When Archbishop Rowan Williams (now Lord Williams of Oystermouth) succeeded George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury, he did not receive any briefing about the case of Peter Ball.[101] When Peter Ball began to write to him, as he had his predecessor, Archbishop Williams received piecemeal information from Mr Nunn, correspondence secretary to the Archbishop. Archbishop Williams was given no reason to believe there was further information known or held at Lambeth Palace about offending by Peter Ball, a misapprehension that would have been corrected by simply reviewing the file. Whilst Archbishop Williams was “taken aback” by the extent of Peter Ball’s public ministry, he did not feel able to question his predecessor’s judgement because he was not aware of any current complaints.[102]

References

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