TOM KELLY: Paedophile priest called a saint by the Establishment and victim by Prince Charles who gave him cash after police caught him
- Peter Ball is suspected of preying on more than 100 boys and young men
- He made his young victims roll in the snow naked or stand in freezing showers
- But when he faced investigation for abuse, judges and public school headmasters wrote to prosecutors protesting his innocence
- Prince Charles said disgraced bishop had been the victim of ‘monstrous wrongs’
- During enquiry he kept in contact with Ball and gave him ‘small gifts of money’
He was a predatory paedophile bishop who for decades enjoyed the patronage and protection of the Establishment.
Sadistic Peter Ball is suspected of preying on more than 100 boys and young men in a 20-year reign of abuse.
He made his young victims roll in the snow naked or stand in freezing showers before beating them with sticks and whips until they bled.
The Prince of Wales also revealed in evidence read out to an inquiry today Ball told him he had quit his job over an ‘indiscretion’. Pictured: Prince Charles and Ball in 1992
But when he finally faced investigation for abusing a teenage novice monk, a string of leading clerics, MPs, judges and public school headmasters wrote to prosecutors protesting his innocence and describing him as a ‘saint’.
The Church of England also knew of a string of other allegations against Ball, but instead of alerting the police ‘colluded and concealed’ the evidence. After being let off with a caution for gross indecency in 1993, for years he enjoyed the continued support of the great and the good.
This included his highest-ranked friend Prince Charles, who told the disgraced bishop he had been the victim of ‘monstrous wrongs’.
Peter Ball was a well-known figure in the church at the time of his 1992 arrest, for eschewing ecclesiastical robes, dressing as a monk, and sleeping on the floor
Born in 1932, Ball went to Lancing College public school in West Sussex and Cambridge University before establishing a monastery in Gloucestershire with his twin brother Michael.
He was made Bishop of Lewes in 1977 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992, where his diocese covered Charles’s country home Highgrove, and the prince was among the guests at his enthronement.
By now, the shameless social climber was one of the church’s best known characters, refusing to wear the ceremonial purple of a bishop in favour of simple, monastic robes, sleeping on the floor and taking vows of celibacy.
But eight months after the enthronement, Ball was arrested for horrifically abusing 16-year-old trainee monk Neil Todd. He had forced the vulnerable teenager to perform sex acts as they lay naked in bed together, take ice-cold, early-morning showers while reading the Bible and stand side by side naked reciting psalms in front of a figure of Christ.
As news of the investigation spread, Lambeth Palace received seven letters containing potentially disturbing information about him, including one from a man who told how, when he was 15, he had been asked by Ball to perform a sex act.
In another, a man said Ball had asked to share a bedroom with his 17-year-old son.
Lord Carey was briefed about the claims and replied personally to two of the tip-off letters. But only one, which was of least concern, was passed to the police.
Two Archbishops of Canterbury, Tory MPs – including David Cameron’s godfather – a senior judge and public school headmasters were also among the Establishment figures who rallied to protect Ball during the investigation.
In letters to police chiefs and the director of public prosecutions they complained that the allegations had caused the bishop ‘excruciating pain’ and claimed it was ‘literally inconceivable’ that he could have committed the offences’.
Identical twin brothers Michael Ball (L) and Peter Ball (R) were Bishops of Jarrow and Lewes respectively in the early 1990s
The correspondence remained secret for years until the Crown Prosecution Service finally released 12 of them after a freedom of information request from journalists.
They revealed how a few weeks after his arrest Tim Renton, now a peer, wrote to the then director of public prosecutions Barbara Mills to say it was the bishop who had ‘suffered terribly’.
Lord Carey, then Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to the Gloucestershire chief constable in February 1993 describing ‘the excruciating pain and spiritual torment which these allegations have inevitably brought upon a man in his exposed position’.
James Woodhouse, the former headmaster of Rugby School, told police in 1993 that Ball’s ‘intention towards all people, young or old, is wholly that of Christian concern and compassion’.
Ball’s lawyers also claimed to police that they had a letter of support from the Royal Family, but the CPS said it had not seen the correspondence. After the widespread support, Ball escaped with a caution in 1993 for a single act of gross indecency against Mr Todd.
Lord Carey declared him ‘basically innocent’ and invited him to stay three times and paid for a holiday for him. He also gave the disgraced Bishop £12,500 of Church cash and, just three years after his caution, agreed that Ball should be permitted to preach at a public schools and conduct confirmations.
And the following year, he told bishops that they could allow Ball to carry out some religious services, but asked them to inform Lambeth Palace when he did because of concerns of ‘possible Press interest’.
The Church’s failures continued under Rowan Williams, who succeeded Lord Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Ball took delight at his continued role in the Church, but his most cherished friend was Charles, who continued to correspond with him even after his caution.
Charles told Ball he had been the victim of ‘monstrous wrongs’ and that he was desperate to help him, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard. The heir to the throne also told the bishop that he felt ‘desperately strongly’ about his treatment and said: ‘I wish I could do more’. And he suggested that perceptions surrounding the allegations were based on ‘lies, invention, speculation and sensation’.
According to his statement to the abuse inquiry last year, the Prince remained close friends with Ball for more than 20 years because he did not realise that the clergyman had admitted sexual abusing a teenager,
He accepted he kept in contact with Ball and even gave him ‘small gifts of money’ after the police caution in 1993. In his written statement to the inquiry the heir to the throne said he had been deceived by Ball, who claimed he was being persecuted by someone with a grudge.
Charles said: ‘I was certainly not aware at the time of the significance or impact of the caution.’
Ball also went on to live in a ‘specially acquired’ rented cottage on the Prince of Wales’s Duchy of Cornwall estate.
Clarence House has said it was the private estate which funds the heir to the throne, and not Charles himself that had purchased the lodge that Ball rented. Ball revelled in his self-declared status as confidant of the Prince of Wales and frequently made reference in his letters to his attending royal functions and to meeting members of the Royal Family. In 2006 Ball was invited to read the homily at the funeral of the father of Camilla Parker Bowles. He continued as a Church of England priest until 2010.
But justice was slowly catching up with him. Police reopened their investigation in 2012 after new allegations, and this time a flood of Ball’s victims came forward. Three years later Ball’s crimes were finally laid bare at the Old Bailey which heard shocking details of his reign of abuse.
He admitted abusing 18 teenagers and young men who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992. Ball was jailed for 32 months.
But it was too late for his first known victim, Mr Todd, who was so tormented that he took his own life aged 38 in 2012.
Ball, meanwhile, was released in February 2017 after serving half his sentence, and lives a free man back in Aller, Somerset.
‘I wish I could do more’: What the prince wrote to his friend the bishop as allegations swirled around
Sept 1993, Ball to Charles
Life continues to be pretty nasty for me for, it seems that my accusers still want to continue their malicious campaign. Luckily they are beginning to show some of their fraudulent plans.
Dec 1994, Charles to Ball
I saw the Archbishop the other day and he told me he is trying to bring you back to a public ministry. I do hope this will be all right and suit you, if and when it happens….
Feb 1995, Charles to Ball
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.
Dec 1995, Ball to Charles
The young man who accused me keeps on harassing. The last was a few weeks back with a fax, threatening to say more, when he has agreed not to and ending with the words ‘Your never forgiving brother in Christ’. That is both vile and blasphemous and oh that the police and CPS had seen and known from the beginning the nature of the young man. How I wish the Archbishop or someone would tell them.
April 1996, Ball to Charles
And I can honestly share the pain of it all having tried to break the crippling and unchristian powers of the ecclesiastical set up, and then being deserted in my hour of need.
June 1996, Charles to Ball
…I am so glad that [X] has been in touch as I requested. I pray the Duchy will be able to find something suitable for you both in due course, but it may take a little time to locate it! I long to see you both settled somewhere that suits you and gives you peace and tranquility – and not too far from here so you can come over more easily…
March 1997, Charles to Ball
[X] tells me that your house has been bought successfully – it looks rather nice – and I only hope the rent won’t be too bad!
I can’t bear it that the frightful, terrifying man is on the loose again and doing his worst… I was visiting the vicar… and we were enthusing about you and your brother and he then told me that he had heard that this ghastly man was up to his dastardly tricks again…. I’ll see off this horrid man if he tries anything again.
Aug 2001, Charles to Ball
I do however firmly believe that one day people will be forced to signing your resignation deed but, as you have been advised, I daresay that the establishment will close ranks and you will get nowhere. But how outrageous that now these people say sorry – and only in private….
Dec 2001, Charles to Ball
I saw [ ] the other day…he mentioned that you were thinking of going to the Archbishop and seemed a bit anxious about it… I daresay by now you will have approached the Archbishop but in your letter you so kindly asked me whether I had any objections – something which you certainly didn’t need to do.
The only thing I would say is that unless you really need to go to the Archbishop of Canterbury – for financial reasons particularly – I would have thought it might be better to let sleeping dogs lie…
Oct 2009, Ball to Charles
I am now nearly a broken man, because of what the Church has put me through after seventeen years of serving in retirement. 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…
Ball included a letter that set out he was being risk assessed.
May 2010, Ball to Charles
…the horror that has come to me from the Bishop of Chichester with the Archbishop’s obvious hand in it. I have been told that I may not minister at all when we move, nor may I worship anywhere without signing a Declaration for the Protection of Children.
May 2012, Ball to Charles
Writes to say that the police are re-opening the investigation and are to question him. He says: ‘I thought it had been fully examined twenty years ago.’
July 2012, Ball to Charles
Life is ‘almost unbearable. I am being pursued and persecuted. In ways which it would not be discreet to enlarge on, though I am sure that you can guess their source and virulence’.
Dec 2012, Ball to Charles
Ball wrote to thank the Prince of Wales for phoning him, writing in the letter that the affair of twenty years ago had been ‘stirred up’ again by Lambeth.
Source: Read Full Article