Skip to main content

0800 917 1000   Open weekdays 9am-5pm

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Anglican Church Case Studies: Chichester/Peter Ball Investigation Report

C.6: The Gloucestershire Constabulary investigation

The beginning of the investigation

96. The investigation by Gloucestershire Constabulary lasted from December 1992 to February 1993, and cost approximately £10,000. There were six police officers investigating, four of whom were full time. They took 63 witness statements from former schemers, members of clergy, members of the CGA and witnesses from Gloucester, Sussex and Cambridge. This was a large-scale enterprise for the police.[1]

97. The officer in day-to-day charge of the investigation was Detective Inspector Wayne Murdock. When the case was referred from the Metropolitan Police on 12 December 1992, he travelled to see Mr Todd at his parents’ address that same day to take a statement. The family’s first concern was that the Church would “cover this up”, but DI Murdock reassured them that the police would not.[2] DI Murdock took a detailed account from Mr Todd over two days, at the end of which he said he had no reason to doubt the truth of his account. Mr Todd’s main concern was for Peter Ball to admit he had done wrong and be removed from office, so that nobody else should go through what he had.[3]

98. Gloucestershire Constabulary attempted to identify other potential complainants and witnesses. They recognised complainants might not be willing to come forward and speak to the police, so they approached all young men who were registered at or had been part of the Little Brothers and Sisters of Christ. Others came forward as a result of press coverage. The police took statements from six young men, in addition to Mr Todd. A consistent picture began to emerge; the young men described naked prayer, anointing of their genitals and requests to masturbate before Peter Ball. He told the young men these were not sexual acts but acts of Franciscan spirituality or part and parcel of monastic life. Many of them had been expressly warned by Peter Ball they should not tell anyone about this. Two individuals told police they had met Peter Ball during individual spiritual counselling sessions whilst they were children and still at school, and he had asked them to take their clothes off or to masturbate before him on school premises.[4]

99. Two of the individuals spoken to by the police were AN-A117 and AN-A98. Since his time on the scheme, AN-A117 had stayed with and been supported by Reverend Dr Rosalind Hunt in Cambridge, who had become a friend and was described by him as his spiritual mentor. There AN-A117 met AN-A98.

100. AN-A98 was attending a public school in Surrey when he first met Peter Ball in 1985. When he was 18 years old he left school and joined Peter Ball’s scheme at the Litlington Priory. He told police that in addition to naked prayer, Peter Ball had anointed his genitals with oil in the chapel. He said Peter Ball would ask him to massage his inner thigh whilst he was naked, and on occasion he would have an erection and ejaculate. AN-98 alleged that, at Peter Ball’s request, they masturbated one another and would lie in bed together. He said on a number of occasions he was beaten by Peter Ball whilst kneeling naked on the floor. He was beaten so hard that the flesh on his buttocks was broken and would bleed. Peter Ball would also ask AN-A98 to flog him.[5]

101. In January 1993, AN-A117 and AN-A98 disclosed what had happened with Peter Ball to Reverend Hunt. She did not herself go to the police, as in her view it should have been AN-A117’s decision, but she encouraged him to do so. She called Rowan Williams (then Bishop of Monmouth, now Lord Williams of Oystermouth) for advice, as she had known him whilst he was a professor of theology at the University of Cambridge. She told him she was aware that Peter Ball had been behaving inappropriately with young men.[6] She asked him to warn off Peter Ball – he advised her to go to her diocesan bishop.[7]

102. During the police investigation, both AN-A117 and AN-A98 were contacted by or on behalf of Peter Ball and encouraged to keep quiet. AN-A117 saw Peter Ball the week before his arrest. At that time he still felt loyal to Peter Ball, who told him Mr Todd was making allegations against him and that any sexual connotation was total fantasy on Mr Todd’s part. Peter Ball telephoned him the day before his arrest and said he was relying on his support. He added that all AN-A117 had to do was to tell them of the cold showers and the naked praying but nothing more.[8]

103. Following Peter Ball’s arrest, AN-A98 was contacted by Bishop Michael Ball who told him he thought if no one else made a complaint about Peter, they would be “home and dry”. He said that a private detective working for Peter Ball was contacting people but he only wanted to hear positive things about Peter. Bishop Michael Ball also suggested to AN-A98 that if anyone came to ask him questions he should “shut up” or similar. Bishop Michael Ball called a second time to ask whether AN-A98 knew anyone else who may wish to complain about Peter, and to impress upon him that if no one else complained Peter may be okay.[9]

104. Reverend Hunt was also contacted and placed under improper pressure to keep quiet during the investigation. Bishop Michael Ball telephoned her and told her it would not be good for Peter Ball or the Church for AN-A98 or AN-A117 to go to the police. Reverend Hunt also discovered Bishop Michael Ball had tried to record their call, because he inadvertently played the tape back to her.[10] Two other bishops, one of whom was himself later accused of sexual abuse against children, also discouraged Reverend Hunt from speaking to the police and told her it would be better if these allegations remained private and if, rather than go to the police, Peter Ball was placed under Church discipline. Reverend Hunt was so troubled by this she again sought advice from Rowan Williams. He told her she was only required to obey a bishop in matters that are lawful and honest; in his view what she was being asked to do was neither. He encouraged her to speak to her diocesan bishop.[11]

105. No senior member of the Church, including Bishop Michael Ball, should have used their position and influence in the Church to try to dissuade a junior member of clergy, or complainants, from reporting allegations to the police.

106. DI Murdock became aware of Bishop Michael Ball contacting potential witnesses. He also suspected he was behind a number of letters supporting Peter Ball that were sent to the police, the CPS and Lambeth Palace. DI Murdock spoke with Peter Ball’s solicitor and warned him that Bishop Michael Ball was, in his view, coming very close to the offence of perverting the course of justice.[12]

107. With the support of each other, and of Reverend Hunt, AN-A117 and AN-A98 spoke with the police. Though they did not want Peter Ball to get into trouble, they knew what had happened to Mr Todd was true and they wished to make statements to support him.[13] AN-A117 and AN-A98 were supported throughout by Reverend Hunt and her colleague Professor Christopher Rowland, and AN-A117 described the officers who interviewed him as “gentle”.

108. AN-A117 told the officers that Peter Ball beat him on the backside on a number of occasions, sometimes with a wooden clothes brush. Afterwards he would ask AN-A117 to beat him in return. When AN-A117 did not feel able to do so, Peter Ball made him feel that he was a failure. On one particular occasion AN-A117 recalled he had been in pain for days afterward and that his backside had been bruised. Peter Ball also asked AN-A117 to roll around naked in the rain, telling him it was something he did with others when they were living the life of St Francis. Afterwards, Peter Ball took AN-A117 into bed with him. Given the nature of the power imbalance, this was inappropriate behaviour.

109. AN-A117 said he agreed to the beatings only because he felt he had no choice, and that it was expected of him. Peter Ball made him feel he would be letting down God and him if he did not agree. When he had left the scheme, AN-A117 had asked Peter Ball to promise he would not beat anyone else.[14]

110. DI Murdock said both men were clearly fragile. They were willing to give witness statements and to go to court, but they wanted to support Mr Todd rather than be considered complainants themselves. That did not, he said, prevent him treating them as the subjects of potential charges.[15]

111. A number of witnesses, including AN-A117 and AN-A98, were homosexual. It was clear to DI Murdock that they were struggling with their sexuality, particularly within the context of the Church, which at that time was very conservative in its outlook on same-sex relationships. He thought Mr Todd was struggling likewise. His perception of the Church’s attitude towards homosexuals was that it was willing to accept them outside the Church but not within it. As a result, one witness had not felt able to give the police the whole truth. He called the police after the interview to ask them to come back to take a correction statement. DI Murdock was aware of other potential complainants who were not willing to come forward, he thought because they did not want to have their sexuality exposed.[16] It is possible they believed that identification as homosexual may have hindered their chosen clerical careers.

112. Gloucestershire Constabulary has accepted that there were further complainants, victims and survivors who could have been identified in 1992–1993. In their view, if further complainants been identified it may have led to a successful prosecution of Peter Ball at this time.[17]

Peter Ball’s interviews

113. DI Murdock arrested Peter Ball on 14 December 1992. He was interviewed four times in total, the last of which was simply to clarify matters.

114. In his first interview, Peter Ball claimed there was an enormous element of fantasy in Mr Todd’s account. He also said Mr Todd had wanted to be beaten, but that he had refused to do so on a number of occasions. Peter Ball said he only saw Mr Todd taking cold showers because he would time him, at Mr Todd’s request.

115. Peter Ball completely denied any allegation of masturbation in his second interview, but explained that he was drawn to nakedness to share Christ’s experience in the Garden of Gethsemane. On occasion, he said, people had joined him voluntarily but he denied telling Mr Todd it was necessary if he wanted to be a monk.

116. In his third interview, Peter Ball accepted hugging Mr Todd whilst naked but said he avoided all genital contact and denied masturbation. He accepted that he may have had “an emission” because it would take only the slightest body contact.[18]

The work of Reverend Brian Tyler

117. Reverend Brian Tyler was a former Sussex Police officer and an ordained member of the clergy, known to both Bishop Eric Kemp and Bishop Michael Ball. Early in the Gloucestershire Constabulary investigation, he was asked to act as a private investigator to seek material to assist with Peter Ball’s defence. It is unclear by whom he was instructed. His fees were met in part by Peter Ball’s solicitors and in part by Bishop Kemp. In addition to Peter Ball’s defence team, Reverend Tyler was providing updates to senior clergy within the Church, including those at Lambeth Palace. On a number of occasions he spoke to Bishop John Yates in order to provide updates to the Lambeth Palace team.

118. He conducted interviews with a number of individuals who had been part of the Give a Year to God scheme, the CGA or the Little Brothers and Sisters of Christ. In reports to Bishop Kemp, he recorded his intention to get to a number of witnesses before the police did. DI Murdock believed he was trying to dissuade them from giving evidence[19] and on occasion encouraged witnesses to contact the police to ‘correct’ or ‘amend’ their statements.

119. On one occasion, whilst DI Murdock was interviewing Bishop Kemp, Reverend Tyler waited outside in his car. He was surreptitiously recording the conversation. There was an arrangement that Bishop Kemp would open the curtains if there was anything of concern, to signal to Reverend Tyler that he should come in. DI Murdock considered this to be “devious” and it was not something he would expect from a very senior member of the Church.[20] Whilst it has the quality of farce, this incident shows that individuals within the Church were willing to undermine the police investigation to keep Peter Ball’s reputation intact.

120. Reverend Tyler set out with the intention to clear Peter Ball’s name. He attempted to build a case to discredit AN-A92 and support the theory that he was part of or responsible for a conspiracy to incriminate Peter Ball. He contacted DI Murdock and asked him to look into AN-A92, telling him that this was a blackmail attempt.[21] DI Murdock duly investigated and found no evidence to support this assertion. Peter Ball now accepts that he was wrong in his attempts to blame AN-A92.[22]

121. Whilst Reverend Tyler spoke to a number of schemers who spoke favourably of Peter Ball and denied any knowledge of nakedness, he was also told there were many stories that involved Peter Ball requesting youths to undress in front of him, anointing people naked, stripping naked with others “and all that sort of thing”.[23] He met with the Guardian of the Franciscan Order to ask him about Peter Ball’s defence that this was all part of Franciscan Spirituality. He was told that it was nothing more than “an excuse for his lustful way of life. The Franciscans do not pray naked. There is nothing at all to support Peter’s ideas about Saint Francis.”[24]

122. Reverend Tyler was forced to conclude that there “is ample evidence ... to prove that Bishop Peter has been involved in a sexually promiscuous way of life”.[25] He thought they should try to secure a caution for Peter Ball. His final report, sent to Bishop Kemp for inclusion on Peter Ball’s file, stated that:

“Without doubt the Police have powerful evidence of years of masturbation and abuse of young men by Bishop Peter. If a trial follows any decline by Peter to resign it would be a disastrous result for the church at this time.”

123. Being in possession of such a report, it was entirely wrong for Bishop Kemp to have written in his autobiography that Peter Ball’s resignation had been the result of work by “mischief makers”.[26] This very public statement exacerbated the distress of victims and survivors, such as AN-A10, who said he had tried to speak out about Peter Ball but did not feel heard.[27]

124. This report remained on file in Chichester until 2012. It was addressed to Bishop Kemp but expressly stated that it was to be shared with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop was aware Reverend Tyler had been engaged to investigate the allegations for the defence, but says that he never met with him and never saw the report.[28] He said he thought it was a dangerous decision for the Church to undertake its own investigations and washed his hands of it.[29] Nonetheless, on 15 February 1993, Bishop Yates reported to Archbishop George Carey that Reverend Tyler had concluded Peter Ball had a case to answer.[30]

125. Despite Archbishop Carey, Bishop Yates and Bishop Kemp all knowing that Reverend Tyler’s investigation supported the allegations against Peter Ball, no one in the Church took steps to ensure this information was shared with the police or the CPS. If Archbishop Carey had not seen the reports by Reverend Tyler, he should have obtained Reverend Tyler’s findings and, when told of them, he should have acted upon them.

The meeting between the police and the defence team

126. During a meeting with Reverend Tyler and his defence team on 23 January 1993, Peter Ball admitted acts capable of amounting to gross indecency. He asked whether he could accept a caution. He maintained that the idea of a caution had been raised before this meeting but he could not remember by whom.[31] He was advised by Mr Chris Peak, his solicitor, that should he be cautioned he must offer his resignation. It was also suggested that he might wish to leave the country to avoid the publicity.[32]

127. The idea of Peter Ball’s resignation came from within his own defence team, including Mr Peak and Reverend Tyler, who were simultaneously reporting to the Church and working for Peter Ball. From this point onwards, Peter Ball’s resignation was bound up with the defence request for the case to be dealt with by way of a caution.

128. Peter Ball’s defence team, including Reverend Tyler, requested a meeting with DI Murdock. On 24 February 1993 DI Murdock attended with another officer. The defence wished to enquire whether matters would be resolved if Peter Ball were to resign and accept a caution.[33] Reverend Tyler described the meeting as friendly and helpful. He formed the view that DI Murdock, who knew of the CGA, was “endeavouring to help ... avoid any unpleasantness in this investigation”.[34] He agreed, Reverend Tyler reported, to recommend to the CPS that this should be dealt with by way of a caution.

129. DI Murdock denied trying to help the defence. Before his involvement in the case, DI Murdock had known Brother Kenneth, who was Peter Ball’s successor as Prior of the CGA and had taught him at school. He had not seen him for 25 years. DI Murdock did not consider that this precluded him from running the investigation. He declared the association to his supervisors and subsequently included it in his report to the CPS.

130. DI Murdock recorded the meeting in detail in his diary.[35] He informed the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) that Peter Ball would be prepared to accept a caution for an offence of indecency in respect of Mr Todd only and that, if he did so, he would offer his resignation.[36] However, DI Murdock said he did not agree to recommend a caution. He was not in a position to make any such promise. He agreed to do no more than pass on the offer of Peter Ball’s resignation to the CPS. Whatever was said at the meeting, the report to the CPS did not recommend a caution. It covered every possible outcome, concluding that there was a case to answer against Peter Ball but the decision lay with the CPS, having consulted the DPP.[37]

Information received about other alleged perpetrators

131. During his investigation, Reverend Tyler obtained a witness statement from Vickery House, who was considered a potential witness in support of Peter Ball’s defence.

132. In his report Reverend Tyler wrote that, at the meeting on 25 January 1993, DI Murdock recommended “unofficially”[38] that it would not be a good idea to call House as a witness as Gloucestershire Constabulary had received information about AN-F11 (a priest in the Chichester Diocese), which they intended to pass to Sussex Police. In relation to House, AN-A108 alleged he had got him drunk and fondled his testicles whilst he was a member of the scheme.[39]

133. Reverend Tyler reported that he had dissuaded DI Murdock from passing the information about AN-F11 and House to Sussex Police by assuring him Bishop Kemp would deal with it. He reported that DI Murdock agreed to provide copies of the statements when Peter Ball’s case concluded.[40] He wrote to DI Murdock on 29 March 1993:

“When we last met, you told me of Fr House and AN-F11. I told Bishop Kemp of this, and told him of my promise to you that we would deal with this situation internally ... I would appreciate if in utter confidence you would send me any evidence or copies of statements relating to House and AN-F11. This is with Bishop Kemp’s knowledge and approval.”[41]

134. DI Murdock had no recollection of receiving Reverend Tyler’s letter[42] which was sent at a time when DI Murdock was posted elsewhere.[43] DI Murdock was adamant that he would not have promised to withhold evidence from Sussex Police, which would be akin to perverting the course of justice.[44] DI Murdock did not conceal information about House in his report to the CPS.

135. Officers from Sussex Police contacted DI Murdock in July 1993 and attended Gloucester in August in relation to two priests in Sussex who “may also have committed criminal offences”.[45] There is no record of what information they were given. If the situation arose now, Gloucestershire Constabulary would seek to ensure there was no ambiguity in cross-border communications.[46]

136. House was convicted of five sexual offences against four young men during the 1970s and 1980s. He was sentenced to six and a half years’ imprisonment in October 2015. AN- F11 died before any investigation was ever carried out. Both Gloucestershire Constabulary and Sussex Police were aware of allegations about House in 1993, yet failed to undertake any detailed investigation until 2012.

137. Bishop Kemp was aware of the allegations against House which, at the very least, questioned his suitability for ministry and to work with young people in particular. Nothing was done about this information and he had unrestricted ministry until his arrest in 2012. When Mr Roger Meekings carried out his Past Cases Review in Chichester in 2008, House’s name was not included on any list of known cases and there was no record of this on the blue file.[47]

Expressions of support for Peter Ball

138. At the outset of the investigation, DI Murdock thought that Peter Ball’s status and profile would mean the investigation might be the subject of outside influence; the “jungle drums will start going and the phone calls will start”.[48] He was right.

139. When Archbishop Carey became aware that Mr Todd had reported Peter Ball to the police, he contacted Sir Peter Imbert, the head of the Metropolitan Police, to find out what was going on.[49] Sir Peter in turn contacted senior officers in Gloucestershire Constabulary, who spoke to DI Murdock. Peter Ball had himself already made contact with a superintendent in Gloucestershire Constabulary.

140. Throughout the investigation, Gloucestershire Constabulary, the CPS and Lambeth Palace received a significant volume of contact from supporters of Peter Ball, from all sections of society.[50] For example, letters were written from the leaders of elite private schools with which Peter Ball had an association, including Radley College,[51] Harrow and Cranleigh School.[52] Ian Beer, headmaster of Ellesmere College and Lancing College, wrote of Peter Ball’s influence on young people and his success in helping young boys sent to stay with him. He said there had never been any reports or concerns from either children or parents.[53]

141. James Woodhouse, former headmaster of Lancing College and Rugby School, wrote to support Peter Ball’s account that his inappropriate acts were ill-judged but nonetheless founded in spirituality.[54] Mr Woodhouse wrote this letter because he had no reason to believe that Peter Ball was guilty of the crimes of which he had been accused.[55] He thought that it was in such a contrast to his experience of Peter Ball and so, it seemed to him, possible there had been a false accusation.

142. Lord Lloyd of Berwick, at that time a Lord Justice of Appeal, was a close friend of Peter Ball and held senior roles within the Church.[56] During the investigation, Lord Lloyd telephoned DI Murdock, he said, to offer a testimonial about Peter Ball. As DI Murdock was the investigating officer, he did not discuss the case and Lord Lloyd agreed to put anything he wished to say in writing. DI Murdock found the call embarrassing and thought that Lord Lloyd had acted very naively but not improperly.[57]

143. Lord Lloyd wrote to the Chief Constable.[58] He said he was not going to write about the case as he knew nothing about it and it would be “quite improper” for him “to seem to be influencing the decision which must rest with the Director of Public Prosecutions”. He said that he only wanted to pass on what he knew about Peter Ball:

“He is, quite simply, the most gentle upright and saintly man I have ever met ... if there is a latter day St Francis, then Peter Ball is him.”

144. He said Peter Ball was suffering greatly and had to call in a psychiatrist. He was concerned that Peter Ball would not be able to cope if it went on much longer. Lord Lloyd also wrote in similar terms to the DPP. He provided a copy of this letter to DI Murdock, with a cover note on official headed paper.[59]

145. Lord Lloyd was adamant that he was not, in sending this letter, trying to influence the police or the DPP. This was in his view purely a character reference. However, he accepted that character references are normally sent through the defence representatives and do not become relevant until sentencing. His letters were sent before the case was charged. It is difficult to see any other purpose for this letter, other than to influence. He believed it was important for those investigating the case to know what sort of person Peter Ball was. He did not mean to emphasise that he should be listened to because of his status, but he did write in his official capacity.[60] At the least he must have realised, or possibly intended, that his letter would be given significant weight or at least taken seriously because of his position at the time.

146. Peter Ball also had friends within government. Tim Rathbone MP wrote to Gloucestershire Constabulary on House of Commons headed paper. He said he knew Peter Ball and it was “literally inconceivable that he would ever become involved with anyone in the way the newspapers have described or insinuated”.[61] He added that Peter Ball was “a shining example of applied and practical goodness of a very special, if not unique quality”, and asked that “these facts ... be borne in mind when assessing the validity of criticism from any quarter”.

147. At Lord Lloyd’s suggestion, the Right Honourable Tim Renton MP (now Lord Renton) wrote, on parliamentary headed paper, to the DPP Dame Barbara Mills in February 1993. This was before the case had even been submitted by the police. He said he had never written to a DPP about an individual case before, but he did so for Peter Ball because he believed him to be “a man of outstanding Christian sincerity and goodness”. He wrote with the explicit intention that he may have an effect on the outcome of the case:[62]

“In all the years he was with us in Sussex, surrounded by his Order or young men, we never heard a breath of any suggestion of impropriety. I do hope you will not mind my writing to you personally and that you will take these thoughts ... into consideration when reaching your decision.”

Lady Renton, Lord Renton’s wife, confirmed that they heard that Peter Ball had been arrested for naked praying with young males. They thought it was odd and an “overzealous Church thing, rather than something sexual in nature”. They wrote using House of Commons paper because they knew that to do so would give it extra weight and authority; they thought the DPP would be more likely to take their views seriously.

148. Gregor McGill of the CPS confirmed that if a member of the public wrote to the DPP, it would just be sent to the individual dealing with the case locally to consider and respond. As this letter was written by an MP on House of Commons headed paper, it was passed to the DPP’s office for a background note and a draft reply to be prepared. It was shown to the DPP personally for her views. It also triggered a request from the DPP’s office to the Gloucestershire office for an update about the investigation. Mr McGill agreed this may create the risk that an MP, purely because of their position, may have more influence through writing letters than an ordinary member of the public.[63]

149. Peter Ball’s defence team claimed, during the investigation, to hold a letter of support for Peter Ball from a member of the Royal Family. This was expressed to DI Murdock, who in turn reported it to the CPS. No such letter has been found and no such letter was seen at the time by the police. The Prince of Wales has denied that he, at any stage, sought to influence the outcome of the investigation or encouraged his staff to do so.[64]

150. When the case was referred to the CPS, they were informed about the support Peter Ball had received from persons of public prominence.[65] In Mr McGill’s view this was interesting but irrelevant to the decision to be made by the CPS.[66] Similarly, DI Murdock said that these letters “cut no ice” with him and he thought to himself that they would not have been written had the authors known what he knew about the allegations.[67] On behalf of the victims and survivors it was submitted that it is to DI Murdock’s credit that he did not falter in the face of sustained pressure.[68] Mr McGill did not find any evidence that the CPS had been influenced in its work by any of the letters received.[69]

151. These individuals are only a small selection of those who wrote on Peter Ball’s behalf. Like many who wrote, it is likely that they genuinely believed in Peter Ball’s innocence. Their support demonstrates the effect of Peter Ball’s position, his charisma and the veneer of spirituality that he portrayed. In short, these individuals could not conceive of the possibility that someone like Peter Ball could be guilty of such offending behaviour. They were trying to ensure that those investigating Peter Ball knew what kind of person he was so that they too would realise how inherently unlikely it was that he was guilty. This demonstrates a misunderstanding of those who commit sexual offences and those who, like Peter Ball, use their charm and charisma to facilitate and conceal their offending behaviour. Peter Ball’s supporters thought they knew more than they did and, in fact, knew nothing of the extent of the allegations faced by Peter Ball.

152. Those individuals in positions of public prominence must have been aware of the potential influence that they held. They must have either recognised or intended that their testimonial may be given greater weight by institutions because of their position.


Back to top