Former bishop arrested over sex abuse allegations in East Sussex

THE former Bishop of Lewes was arrested this morning on suspicion of sex abuse dating back more than 20 years ago.

The Right Reverend Peter Ball is being held on suspicion of eight sexual offences committed against eight boys and young men, ranging in age from 12 to the early twenties, at addresses in East Sussex. Police say the offences date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The news coincides with the arrest at his home in Haywards Heath this morning of retired Church of England priest, Vickery House. The 67-year-old was arrested on suspicion of two separate sexual offences against two teenage boys in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983.

Both have been detained in Somerset and Sussex respectively, for interview and further enquiries by Sussex Police officers. Police have stressed that the allegations against the two men were being dealt with separately.

The arrests result from a review and subsequent investigation over the past six months by a team of Sussex Police detectives. The investigation follows receipt by Sussex Police in May this year from Lambeth Palace of two reports from a Church of England safeguarding consultant, which contain reviews of Church files relating to matters relating to the safeguarding of young people in the Chichester Diocese during the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Sussex Police said in a statement that this investigation, which relates to alleged offences not previously reported to Sussex Police, has taken six months. In a complex enquiry, Sussex Police had to trace a number of people, all adults, together with other witnesses and records from a wide variety of sources.

They stressed that there were no allegations of recent or current offending and that there is nothing to suggest any young people are currently at risk.

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes of Sussex Police, who is in charge of the investigation, added; “The Church of England, including the Diocese of Chichester, are co-operating fully with police.

“Although the matters referred to are still subject of police investigation, Sussex Police make it clear that the force will always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending, and every possible step will be taken to investigate whenever appropriate.

“Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences.”