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IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

C.9: Peter Ball’s resignation and the consideration of disciplinary action

The immediate response to the caution

239. Peter Ball was told on 5 March 1993 that he would be cautioned, and Bishop Michael Ball immediately wrote to inform Archbishop George Carey. On 7 March 1993, Peter Ball wrote to the Archbishop, asking whether his resignation could be post-dated to 1 April 1993 because it would be “worth four thousand pounds to him”.[1]

240. In anticipation of Peter Ball’s caution and resignation, staff at Lambeth Palace had already considered the mechanics of his resignation, including how they could avoid any impediments to his receiving a disability pension.[2] Following his caution Peter Ball immediately resigned and went on holiday at the Archbishop’s expense.[3]

241. Peter Ball’s caution and resignation were accompanied by a press statement, written for him by Lambeth Palace:

“It was never my intention, in any way, to do anything which might have caused distress to anyone. My motivation has always been the pursuit of deeper Christian commitment and spiritual growth ... I regret, with great penitence and sorrow the circumstances that have led to this police caution.”[4]

242. A press release was also issued by Lambeth Palace on behalf of the Archbishop:

“Bishop Peter is a highly gifted and original man ... He has been much loved, both in his Diocese and in the wider Church ... His resignation as Bishop of Gloucester is therefore a cause of great sorrow. However, given that he has accepted the caution, his resignation is a responsible decision made in the best interests of the Diocese of Gloucester and the wider Church.”[5]

The Archbishop concluded by asking Christian people “to bear up all those involved in their prayers”. This final line was included as a “balancing factor”, intended to cover Mr Todd. Dr Andrew Purkis agreed it was inadequate.[6]

243. Although the press release acknowledged that Peter Ball had accepted a caution, it did not acknowledge that Peter Ball had abused his position in the Church. Instead it inappropriately praised Peter Ball and presented his resignation as a self-sacrifice. The Church offered no apology to Mr Todd and did not express any concern for his welfare. The Archbishops’ Council has accepted that there was a “shocking, even callous” lack of consideration for Mr Todd and the other complainants who had written to Lambeth Palace.[7]

244. Following this statement, on 11 March 1993, Victim Support (which had been supporting Mr Todd during the police investigation) wrote to Archbishop Carey. They stated that the Todd family had been deeply disturbed by the absence of any expression of concern for Neil from senior representatives of the Church of England during the investigation. There had been many public expressions of concern for Peter Ball, but the only reference to Mr Todd was one diocesan bishop who said he hoped that Mr Todd “will be able to forgive Bishop Peter”. This “apparent insensitivity” by the Church was having serious effects on Mr Todd and his family.[8]

245. Two days after Peter Ball’s caution, the Archbishop was contacted by Reverend Dr Rosalind Hunt and another individual on behalf of Mr Todd.[9] They suggested that some kind of apology or reparation be made by the Church in recognition of Peter Ball’s misuse of his power as a bishop, in taking advantage of young men. They also wanted to ensure that having abused his position before, Peter Ball would not be entrusted with pastoral responsibility for young men in the future.

246. At the time, Archbishop Carey wrote “we resist such demands”.[10] He told the Inquiry that this was, in effect, because he did not like being told what to do and the decision was for him alone.[11] Archbishop Carey did not apologise on behalf of the Church to the complainants, victims and survivors, or take any steps to make reparations.

247. More generally, Archbishop Carey told this Inquiry he agreed not enough was done for Mr Todd but maintained it would be wrong to say that Mr Todd did not receive any help.[12] He received care from a hospital chaplain following his second suicide attempt and he was visited by the Bishop of Southwell following Peter Ball’s arrest.[13] He was informally supported by his local parish priest and his wife who was a trained counsellor. The Church paid for Mr Todd to have two sessions of counselling.[14]

The extent to which there was any further investigation

248. As a result of negative press coverage, a further and more defensive press statement was issued on 11 March 1993 to deny there had been any Church cover-up.[15] This also promised that the Archbishop’s own pastoral investigations were ongoing, a promise repeated in letters to a number of the complainants who had written to Lambeth Palace.[16] In fact, no further meaningful enquiries were made by Archbishop Carey or on his behalf following Peter Ball’s caution.

249. Archbishop Carey told us he was not aware of the precise circumstances of the offence for which Peter Ball was cautioned.[17] Following the caution, he contacted Gloucestershire Constabulary to ask for details about the allegations and the evidence of the witnesses, because it might help to inform his decision about disciplinary action and pastoral care.[18] The Chief Constable refused. The first reason he gave was because the information was gathered for the purposes of criminal investigation and on a confidential basis. However, he said:

“Whilst it may be possible to approach some of the witnesses in the way that you suggest I feel that to do so would be fraught with danger. Inevitably our action would lead to the press and there would be a renewed focus on the whole matter which may be counter productive. This, in turn may lead to fresh allegations which I would be duty bound to investigate and thereby re-open the whole business.”

250. The Chief Constable then identified that even if the witnesses were persuaded to release the evidence to them, the Church would be faced with the problem of determining which part of their evidence was accepted by Peter Ball, and to what extent. The Archbishop was warned by the Chief Constable that “witnesses frequently change their accounts” and so speaking to the complainants may not assist him. Lastly, the Chief Constable was concerned that seeking to persuade witnesses to disclose information to someone who is the employer of the suspect could lead to allegations of unethical conduct, and some kind of outside scrutiny which would “open up the whole issue again”.[19]

251. The police should not have sought to discourage further investigation by Lambeth Palace. In as much as this letter seeks to let sleeping dogs lie, that should not have been a concern of the police. The police should have at least contacted some of the witnesses to test the waters about information-sharing.

252. Whilst the response from Gloucestershire Constabulary was unhelpful, it need not have put an end to the Archbishop’s investigation. Even without a complete picture, as the Archbishops’ Council recognises, the information already available to Lambeth Palace should have at the very least put the Church on notice that a fuller investigation was required.[20]

253. Lambeth Palace and those investigating on behalf of Archbishop Carey were aware of allegations made by eight teenagers and young men, including those who had written to Lambeth Palace, AN-A98, AN-A117 and Mr Todd. Even after the caution, they did not meet with or speak with any of them to discuss the allegations. They met with Peter Ball but did not question the explanations he gave in response to their allegations, some of which were highly implausible.

254. After Peter Ball’s caution, Bishop John Yates wrote to AN-A93 and AN-A10 to say that in view of Peter Ball’s resignation and caution, and the length of time since the incidents they wrote about, “the Archbishop is not minded to pursue this particular incident further”. They were told if they were still uneasy they could contact the Archbishop.[21]

255. AN-A10 did not contact the Archbishop again. He thought that, as Peter Ball had been cautioned and had resigned, in some ways he did not need to pursue anything. However, he was also confused as to why no one from the Church had ever asked him what had happened to him.[22] He had genuinely believed the Archbishop of Canterbury would conduct proper enquiries in good faith, having promised AN-A10 and promised publicly that he would. He now feels that was a sham.[23]

256. Whilst there was no guidance, best practice or procedure for such investigations at the time,[24] Archbishop Carey accepted they did “very little by way of follow up”. He agreed that the investigation by Bishop Ronald Gordon – little more than reading the letters and listening to Peter Ball’s explanation – “did not amount to much”.[25] Yet, in addition to accepting the caution in respect of Mr Todd, Peter Ball later pleaded guilty to the allegations of four of those who wrote to Lambeth Palace (AN-A93, AN-A108, AN-A10 and AN-A99).[26]

257. Once Gloucestershire Constabulary concluded their investigation and Peter Ball was cautioned, the Archbishop’s investigation at best ceased to be a priority.[27] It “fizzled out” in circumstances which Archbishop Carey accepted were very damaging to those involved.[28] He also accepted that the response to the letters was handled badly and they had been “fobbing people off” but he did not accept personal responsibility for these failings.[29] Archbishop Carey was the most senior cleric in the Church and was in charge at Lambeth Palace. The investigation had been announced in his name and it was ultimately his responsibility.

Possible disciplinary action under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure

258. Archbishop Carey said that it had been clear to him and others, even before the police investigation concluded, Peter Ball would need to be disciplined.[30] Soon after Peter Ball’s caution he wrote that there was:

“clear evidence of misdemeanours that would have indicted any clergyman under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure ... we can’t have two standards in the Church and though the police investigation may have finished, I know that my responsibilities have not, and I have no doubt that more work needs to be done at many different levels”.[31]

Despite this, following his caution in 1993, Peter Ball was not placed under any form of clergy discipline until 2016.

259. Archbishop Carey said he did not consider disciplinary action to be justified without more information from the police or the statutory authorities.[32] Whilst he was certainly not assisted by the refusal of Gloucestershire Constabulary to provide information, Archbishop Carey still needed to consider independently the need for disciplinary action. The information already available to the Church in 1993 indicated that Peter Ball’s conduct was “behaviour that most people would regard as being unacceptable by a bishop”.[33]

260. This could amount to an offence under the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure (EJM 1963) of “conduct unbecoming the office and work of a clerk in holy orders” regardless of whether or not it was a criminal offence.[34] It could also be considered contrary to Canon C18, which describes the duty on diocesan bishops “to teach and to uphold sound and wholesome doctrine, and to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange opinions; and, himself an example of righteous and godly living, it is his duty to set forward and maintain quietness, love, and peace among all men”.[35]

261. As Archbishop Carey recorded in his diary on 7 April 1993, in relation to Peter Ball:

“Truth is he failed his high office – could not see that if you ‘counsel’ teenagers, naked on your bed and touch genitals you could hardly complain if the police call it ‘gross indecency’!”[36]

262. Whilst the EJM 1963 did not provide for automatic prohibition from ministry on the basis of a caution alone (as opposed to a conviction), disciplinary action could have been instigated under Part V by establishing an Episcopal Committee of Convocation, a hearing before Peter Ball’s peers. Archbishop Carey was advised as much by Dr Frank Robson and Canon John Rees[37] at the time.[38] The potential length and complexity of the process would have been amongst the factors considered when deciding whether to initiate proceedings but should not have been decisive,[39] particularly in light of the extent and nature of the allegations against Peter Ball.

263. Archbishop Justin Welby wrote to Archbishop Carey in 2017:

“I am unable to accept that you ‘did not have the benefit of any procedures in those pre-Savile days’. The files at Lambeth make clear that there were processes regularly used at the time under both the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure and the use of the ‘Caution List’, and that you made firm disciplinary decisions in relation to clergy who offended.”[40]

264. Archbishop Carey said he thought Peter Ball’s resignation and ill-health would preclude future ministry.[41] He also said he thought at the time that Peter Ball had been punished enough because “he lost his career, he lost his job, he lost his reputation, he lost a future”.[42] He was no longer going to be a troublemaker and so Archbishop Carey wanted to let him get on with his life. However, that explanation is not supported by the evidence from that time. In 1993 the Archbishop wrote to Peter Ball to say he hoped that he would be able to return to ministry in the future, when his health allowed.[43]

265. Even if Peter Ball was unwell in the immediate aftermath of his caution and resignation, this does not explain why disciplinary procedures were not commenced later, particularly when he was clearly well enough and was agitating for a return for ministry. Archbishop Carey had no explanation for the failure to take disciplinary action at that later time.[44]

“We should have done something more firmly about this. We should have followed up procedures to discipline the man more fully. We failed to do that.”[45]

266. Archbishop Carey described the collaborative working environment at Lambeth Palace and said the decision not to take disciplinary action was a collective one. Whilst he was entitled to take advice from all of those around him, Archbishop Carey was the only person who could have commenced disciplinary proceedings and so it was ultimately his decision. He now recognises he did have enough information, if only from Peter Ball’s admissions, to take firm action.

The caution list

267. The caution list was a list of names kept at Lambeth Palace (or Bishopthorpe Palace for those clergy allocated to the Archdiocese of York) of clergy who had either been subject to clerical discipline, or had behaved contrary to the teachings of the Church or “about whom there was some concern”.[46] Prior to 1 January 2006, the caution list had no statutory basis and there were no detailed criteria as to when an entry on the caution list was to be made. It was circulated on a confidential basis to all diocesan bishops so that they could consult it before making appointments.[47]

268. Peter Ball could have been placed on the second part containing the names of those who were under “pastoral discipline”.[48] He would not have been the first or even the only bishop on the caution list at that time; for example, there was a bishop on the list for adultery.[49]

269. It has been suggested on behalf of Archbishop Carey that since the list was confidential, it would not have helped to silence Peter Ball’s supporters. As Peter Ball’s caution had been so widely publicised, placing him on the caution list would have had little practical effect.[50]

270. Peter Ball’s inclusion on the caution list would have reflected the seriousness of his misconduct. It would have highlighted that there were concerns about his continued or resumed ministry. As a result, it may have made it more difficult for Peter Ball to have been treated as “rehabilitated without a proper consideration of the issues”.[51]

271. The very reason Mr Todd initially reported his allegations was to try and ensure Peter Ball was removed from office and no one else would go through the same experience. The CPS and the police decided to caution Peter Ball, at least partly on the understanding that this would be achieved through his resignation. Placing Peter Ball on the list would not necessarily have amounted to a disciplinary act but it may have helped to ensure that he did not have any more access to children and young men through the Church of England.[52]

272. Archbishop Carey had been advised by Bishop Yates that once Peter Ball retired, adding him to the caution list may not be the appropriate course,[53] but he was also told there was no reason why Peter Ball could not be placed on the list.[54] Even in retirement, clergy and in particular bishops often play an active role in their parishes and continue aspects of their ministry. Mr Andrew Nunn, the Archbishop’s correspondence secretary, thought that if Peter Ball had been a parochial clergyman he would have been placed on the caution list.[55]

273. It is unclear why Peter Ball was never placed on the caution list. Archbishop Carey has since claimed variously that it was because he had thought the list was not intended for retired clergy[56] or because he had acted out of pity or a longing that at some point in the future Peter Ball would return to ministry.[57] With the benefit of hindsight, Archbishop Carey regrets he did not place Peter Ball on the caution list, if only because of the difficult position he put himself in.

“I put myself in an impossible situation/position by not putting him on that list, which would have helped enormously.”[58]

274. Peter Ball should have been placed on the caution list. No good reason has been provided for the failure to do so, which was a significant error of judgement. It appears that those in positions of power at Lambeth Palace, including the Archbishop, were unduly influenced by feelings of pity for Peter Ball and their respect for his skills as a preacher. This was compounded by a mistaken belief that Peter Ball had not really done anything wrong and therefore had already paid a harsh price.

Understanding of the caution

275. Soon after Peter Ball’s caution, Archbishop Carey wrote:

“if the same allegations and admissions had been made against and by a parish priest, would one not have expected the diocesan bishop concerned to have put him on the List? I did not do so, for in the end I believed him to be basically innocent, and as you well know, my personal regard for him is very high. But I will not conceal from you that the decision was one I needed to agonise over.”[59]

276. For victims and survivors this statement is “extraordinary” and “simply wrong”, particularly in the face of the information available to him at that time.[60] Archbishop Carey told the Inquiry that he did not recognise the seriousness of Peter Ball’s behaviour, viewing it less as abuse but as “more narcissistic relationships, rather pathetic, but still bad, still wrong”.[61] This was compounded by his belief that the police caution was “the mildest of responses”.[62] Nonetheless, Archbishop Carey had known since December 1992 what Mr Todd had alleged and he should have recognised that in accepting a caution, Peter Ball had admitted his guilt. He could not therefore be described as “innocent”.

277. This was not the first caution that Archbishop Carey had dealt with. Prior to his appointment as Archbishop of Canterbury, whilst teaching at a theological college, he was involved in a case relating to “interference with children” for which the individual received a caution. The police at that time explained the caution to him, and he said he understood it.[63] More recently, in December 1992, the Archbishop received detailed advice from Dr Robson about cautions; it was a statement by the police that they considered they had sufficient evidence to lay charges but have decided not to do so,[64] and that in accepting the caution Peter Ball accepted he had committed the offence.[65]

278. In Dr Purkis’ experience, there were times when the Archbishop believed in Peter Ball’s innocence, and others when he was perfectly clear the admission of guilt was just that and “something very wrong had happened”.[66]

279. Archbishop Carey minimised the seriousness of Peter Ball’s behaviour because it did not involve any penetration:[67]

“I think all of us at the time were saying, well he wasn’t raping anybody, there was no penetrative sex. I think our weakness was actually to put it as the lowest of the low instead of seeing that, whatever it is, it’s conduct unbecoming of a bishop.”[68]

That misconception was not limited to the Archbishop. Mr Nunn, 18 years later, considered Peter Ball’s offence not to be of “the most serious sort” because “there had been no penetration ... and the victims were adults or adolescents, rather than children and, to that extent, I thought they weren’t of the most serious sort”.[69] He did recognise that it was a betrayal of trust by a man in a position of authority.[70] Dr Purkis likewise viewed the allegations as an act of homoerotic impulse that had slipped beyond the boundaries of challenging spiritual practice.[71]

280. It was suggested to the Inquiry, on behalf of Archbishop Carey, that the offence of gross indecency was at the less serious end of the spectrum because it is not ‘an assault’ perpetrated by an aggressor against a victim, but an offence designed to criminalise homosexual behaviour.

281. This repeats the mistake of 1993, focussing on the offence for which Peter Ball was cautioned at the expense of the bigger picture. The allegations reported to the Church, including ultimately to Archbishop Carey, by Mr Todd and others in 1992–1993, presented a clear and consistent picture of an abuse of trust and power through the manipulation of vulnerable young men and boys. As was accepted by the Archbishop, the age difference should have alerted him to the exploitative nature of Peter Ball’s behaviour but Archbishop Carey had assumed there was “a hard border between children (with whom sexual activity by an adult would have been obviously criminal) and adults (with whom it was not)”.[72] This itself ignores that Lambeth Palace had received allegations about both teenagers and adults.

Financial support

282. Following his resignation, and in addition to his disability pension, Peter Ball received significant financial support from the Church in response to repeated requests for more money.[73] It is estimated Peter Ball received more than £12,500 between 1992 and 1994 alone, which was used to pay his legal fees and household expenses. This came in large part from the Archbishop’s discretionary fund,[74] but Archbishop Carey also persuaded the Church Commissioners to contribute and gave Peter Ball money from his personal sources.[75] Such requests for financial support from retired bishops were unusual but Archbishop Carey thought there was nothing improper in this decision. He agreed with the Inquiry that the provision of significant sums of money to Peter Ball, including help to fund his defence, may well be galling to victims and survivors.[76]

283. It was not acceptable, as the Archbishops’ Council agrees,[77] for such sums to have been paid to Peter Ball, particularly where there did not appear to be any consideration of the needs of those other than Peter Ball or any investigation into Peter Ball’s means.

References

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