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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

C.11: Internal Church reviews

The 2000 review by Bishop Richard Llewellin

339. Even in 2000, Peter Ball and his supporters refused to accept he had done anything worthy of resignation or rebuke. The letters and telephone calls in support of him criticised the perceived lack of concern and pastoral care shown by the Church towards Peter Ball.

340. This prompted a fresh review of the files held at Lambeth Palace in September 2000.[1] It was carried out by Mr Andrew Nunn and co‐signed by Bishop Richard Llewellin (then Bishop at Lambeth and chief of staff to the Archbishop of Canterbury). Bishop Llewellin co‐signed the memorandum setting out the conclusions of the review to protect Mr Nunn from “archiepiscopal explosions”, anticipating their conclusions would not be welcomed by Archbishop George Carey.[2]

341. The review concluded Archbishop Carey believed Peter Ball’s version of events all along, and had given him very generous pastoral support in terms of time and money. Peter Ball had been restored to ministry “sooner than might have been expected in comparison to similar cases”. Archbishop Carey “gave him a Provincial Permission to Preach – thereby giving him a far wider authority to minister than most ordinary retired bishops”.[3]

342. The reviewers thought one might have expected Peter Ball to have been placed on the caution list for a minimum of five years, indicating his offence was so serious it was considered inappropriate for him to exercise his orders. Precedent at the time also suggested that, after five years, his restoration to ministry might have been more gradual. There was little or no apparent acceptance of responsibility or recognition of the harm he caused to the children and young men in question and to the Church’s reputation.[4] 

343. As anticipated, the review was not well received by Archbishop Carey. He wrote an intemperate response to Bishop Llewellin’s memo, which he insisted be filed alongside it to set out the justification for his own actions. He thought Bishop Llewellin and Mr Nunn had been “over-­critical” of him and had not taken into account (i) the acute anguish, despair and pain caused to Peter Ball and Bishop Michael Ball, (ii) that the police had not informed him exactly what had happened, (iii) that his reason for not placing Peter Ball on the caution list was because he had resigned and was too ill to exercise a ministry, and (iv) that Peter Ball was not allowed to exercise a ministry for some time. He was unapologetic for the pastoral support provided to Peter Ball:

“I am sure it was right to be compassionate and tender ... Peter Ball lost everything: I stand by a man who, overall, has been a wonderful priest and bishop”.[5]

344. Even in the face of advice from his senior staff, Archbishop Carey could not see that he had been overly generous towards Peter Ball and had failed to respond to the gravity of the allegations. Archbishop Carey continued to focus upon and emphasise the harm caused to Peter Ball, not that caused to the complainants, victims and survivors.

345. With the benefit of hindsight, Archbishop Carey has now accepted he had been “too pastoral” towards Peter Ball.[6] He denied this was because of Peter Ball’s position. Rather, he thought Peter Ball had been punished enough because he had lost more and suffered more public humiliation than someone else may have expected.[7]

346. Archbishop Carey told the Inquiry that he thought the 2000 review reflected the changes in society since the early 1990s and that this was the first time anyone started to realise the seriousness of Peter Ball’s actions.[8]

347. However, the Archbishop had received advice on these issues in 1994, before he allowed Peter Ball to return to ministry. His chaplain, Reverend Colin Fletcher (subsequently the Area Bishop of Dorchester), warned him in 1994 that if he were to allow Peter Ball to return to ministry the questions and criticisms that may follow would include:

“a) Is this the kind of length of punishment that other clergy who have admitted to illegal acts of this nature normally receive?

b) Why has a Bishop who has admitted such a grave offence been treated so leniently?

c) What are the signals the Church is sending to society as a whole about how it views betrayal of trust and child abuse?”[9]

348. Dr Andrew Purkis said that Reverend Fletcher was not a lone voice and, at the time of Peter Ball’s return to ministry, there had been a greater awareness within Lambeth Palace of the seriousness of Peter Ball’s actions than was acknowledged by Archbishop Carey.[10]

349. Even though Mr Nunn and Bishop Llewellin referred to seven letters from other complainants which had not been resolved, neither Archbishop Carey nor anyone at Lambeth Palace took any action in relation to them. No action was taken to restrict, revoke or review Peter Ball’s permission to officiate, or to commence disciplinary action. Archbishop Carey thought it was too late to do so and it would have been quite difficult.[11]

350. No one considered taking any action to ensure Peter Ball was unable to work with or approach young people again, notwithstanding that he was ministering in schools.[12] Archbishop Carey did not realise (perhaps reflecting the lack of oversight) that Peter Ball, in his retired episcopal ministry, was publicly preaching and performing confirmations, presenting himself as a man of good standing before parents, young people and children. This of course could allow the same breach of trust displayed in his previous offending behaviour.[13]

351. Mr Nunn said that, in 2000, there was still no concept of safeguarding in the Church. They were concerned only with whether or not someone had committed a crime.[14] As a result, the status quo was maintained. Mr Nunn recognised he could have challenged this but he did not consider it his place to do so.[15]

The Past Cases Review in Chichester

352. When Mr Roger Meekings undertook his Past Cases Review in Chichester in 2009, Peter Ball’s name was recorded amongst the known cases, but only in relation to the caution.[16]

353. He reviewed the correspondence file relating to Peter Ball held at the Palace in Chichester. A subsequent 2012 review of this file found the reports by Reverend Brian Tyler to Bishop Eric Kemp. Mr Meekings was “pretty certain” these reports were not included within the file at the time that he reviewed it. Had they been, he would have raised this in his findings.[17] Peter Ball’s case was not one where it was identified that further action was required.

354. When Lady Butler‐Sloss was appointed to conduct a further review in Chichester, she met with Philip Johnson and the meeting was recorded. Mr Johnson told her that Roy Cotton had introduced him to Peter Ball and on one occasion Peter Ball had pulled him to sit on his lap and stroked his inner thigh. He had also disclosed this to Bishop John Hind.[18] Peter Ball entered a not guilty plea to this allegation and it was left to lie on the file. Lady Butler‐Sloss did not include any of the allegations made by Mr Johnson about Peter Ball in her report. She told Mr Johnson about her intention to omit these allegations from her report, giving two reasons. The first was that she cared about the Church and therefore “did not want to give the press that which is not terribly important in the context”. The second was that if she mentioned a bishop in her report that is all the press would focus on. She said she did not mind Peter Ball being humiliated but she did not want Mr Johnson’s story to be hijacked.[19]

355. Mr Johnson felt “rather pressurised and steam rollered” during his meeting with Lady Butler‐Sloss.[20] He said Lady Butler‐Sloss had promised to send details about Peter Ball and other matters confidentially to Bishop Hind. Whilst she sent a confidential note on other priests to Mr Chris Smith at Lambeth Palace, it did not include any mention of Peter Ball.[21] Lady Butler‐Sloss, in evidence to the Inquiry, accepted with hindsight that she should have included Peter Ball in her report.[22]

The Past Cases Review at Lambeth Palace

356. It was decided that as each diocese was undertaking a Past Cases Review, the same should also be carried out of files held at Lambeth Palace. The case of Peter Ball was selected for a separate and independent review because it was large and complex, and also because of its high profile.[23]

357. A review team was assembled. It was led by Professor Anthony Mellows (a senior legal academic and eminent lay figure within the Church of England) along with the Diocesan Registrar for London and Southwark, and Mrs Kate Wood (a former police officer and independent safeguarding consultant). Its objective was to review the material held at Lambeth Palace and to suggest the best way of proceeding. Its primary consideration was to be the protection of children, in particular to “indicate how any outstanding moral, legal, and pastoral obligations and responsibilities on the part of the Church could be discharged”.[24] Mrs Wood thought its focus was more about the legal and disciplinary processes than about safeguarding.[25] It was not considered necessary for Reverend Pearl Luxon, at that time the National Safeguarding Adviser, to be involved in any way.[26]

358. The resulting Mellows report was provided to Archbishop Rowan Williams on 17 December 2008. It concluded there had been:

“a remarkable, and, indeed, shocking, difference between the lenient treatment afforded to Bishop Ball on the one hand and that which would be afforded to other clergy who committed comparable offences. This is so both as a matter of substance and of perception.”[27]

359. It concluded there was no further pastoral action that could or should have been taken by the Church in respect of Mr Todd, but that pastoral support should have been offered to the other complainants. The Mellows report also concluded that whilst there had been no follow‐up of the additional allegations against Peter Ball, there was no evidence of a deliberate cover‐up.

360. The Mellows report made a number of recommendations about Peter Ball:[28]

a. Disciplinary proceedings should not be instituted against Peter Ball and he should not be added to the caution list.

b. Peter Ball should be subject to a risk assessment.

c. Peter Ball should not be permitted to preach without such a risk assessment and, should the assessment conclude that he poses a risk to children and young people, there should be a permanent ban on his unrestricted access to children and young people.

d. A new statement should be made to the House of Bishops which “accurately reflects the position”.

361. Archbishop Williams decided to defer action on the recommendations until after the ongoing Northamptonshire Police investigation.[29]

362. However, by May 2009, the recommendations had still not been implemented and the risk assessment had not been arranged.[30] Peter Ball was at that time living in the Diocese of Bath and Wells. In 2009, the Diocese became aware that Peter Ball had involved himself in a case in which allegations of harassment had been made against a member of clergy by a 17‐year‐old complainant. He had written to the complainant to dissuade him from pursuing the allegations.[31] Mrs Wood became aware of this case. She considered that the risk presented by Peter Ball was ongoing.[32]

363. As a result, Peter Ball finally underwent a risk assessment in July 2009. The delay was in part caused by a dispute about whether it should be funded by the Diocese or by Lambeth Palace.[33]

364. Having heard about the risk assessment from Peter Ball, Lord Lloyd wrote to the Bishop of Bath and Wells to ask him to review his decision or at least to postpone the assessment because Peter Ball was too frail. He described the letter asking Peter Ball to undergo a risk assessment as “the coldest and most inhuman letter” he had ever seen from an employer. He considered the Church to be cruel and the risk assessment to be akin to torture.[34] Lord Lloyd also telephoned the Bishop’s chaplain, who recorded he had “been subject to a choleric grilling” and that Lord Lloyd thought that Lambeth Palace should have made an exception for Peter Ball.[35] Lord Lloyd also called the chief of staff at Lambeth Palace, who recorded that Lord Lloyd told him that if they were to persist with the risk assessment “some powerful people would be very upset”.[36]

365. The assessment ultimately concluded that at the time of the allegations by Mr Todd, Peter Ball could:

“rightly be called a sexual predator, His behaviours at that time representing an abuse of power and trust by someone who was not only in a position of authority but has also been described as having a charismatic personality. It is precisely these attributes which enable many offenders to create situations in which they are able to gain the trust which makes it easier to create situations in which to abuse and to overcome the resistance of victims.”[37]

366. In relation to ongoing risk, the assessment concluded that Peter Ball’s “sexual interest is more akin to an hebophile than a paedophile, his arousal having been to post pubertal adolescents and young adults rather than pre­pubertal children”. Although the risk he posed in 2009 was lower than that posed in the past, it found there were “aspects of his behaviour which may be seen as highly manipulative and controlling”.[38]

367. Peter Ball shared the report with Lord Lloyd and reported to Mr Nunn that Lord Lloyd denounced it as “meaningless”. Having re‐read the report, Lord Lloyd told the Inquiry that he withdrew that comment.[39]

368. In any event, as a result, a formal ‘safeguarding children agreement’ was put in place between Peter Ball and the Diocese. Peter Ball’s permission to officiate was also limited to one parish, and he was referred to the Independent Safeguarding Authority and the Local Authority Designated Officer.[40]

369. At this time, Peter Ball tried to solicit the support of the Prince of Wales and sent him a copy of the letter from the Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser for Bath and Wells informing him of the need for a risk assessment. He said:

“They have smashed me with the bully of an assessor, from a child protection officer, and no pastoral care, except two nice letters from the archbishop. Suddenly I am not allowed to baptise or go to any parish without informing the church warden that I had a caution all those years back.”[41]

370. The Mellows report was a thorough attempt to examine the material held by Lambeth Palace and sensibly suggested a risk assessment. It took too long to carry out this review, leading to suspicions of prevarication. Irrespective of any police investigation, a review should have taken place as soon as practicable. 

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