The Archbishop of Canterbury delayed an abuse investigation into the former Bishop of Lewes by withholding information, a public inquiry has heard.
The allegation by a lawyer representing victims of Peter Ball was made at preliminary hearing of the independent inquiry into child sex abuse on Wednesday (March 16).
The inquiry heard how George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury who now sits in the House of Lords, failed to pass on a specific allegation of abuse by Ball to Sussex Police.
Richard Scorer, lawyer for Peter Ball’s victims, told the inquiry how a victim known only as A13 had written “a very detailed complaint” to Lord Carey in 1992 - during a police investigation into abuse by Ball,
Mr Scorer said, “We believe that Archbishop Carey failed to pass that information on to the police and that was one reason why we believe a proper investigation of Ball’s activities and his abuse was delayed by over 20 years.”
Lord Carey denies receiving this letter or having any knowledge of Ball’s abuse.
Peter Ball, 84, was jailed for 32 months in October last year after admitting to abusing 18 young men between 1992 and 1997.
In 1993 Ball was cautioned by police after an earlier investigation into abuse.
The victim, Neil Todd, took his own life after a new police investigation into Ball began in 2012.
Last year it emerged that Lord Carey – as well as several other prominent public figures – wrote to the prosecutors in support of the former Bishop of Lewes during the 1993 investigation.
The independent inquiry, which will also look into abuse in Rochdale and the late Labour peer Greville Janner, will examine how the Church of England reacted to allegations of abuse in the Diocese of Chichester.
Senior counsel for the inquiry, Ben Emmerson QC, said, “[The diocese] did not pick up on Peter Ball’s offending or on the history of allegations against other clerics within the diocese, including Roy Cotton, Robert Coles and Gordon Rideout.
“These cases cast considerable doubt over the assertion made by the Church in the wake of its review that it had “thoroughly re-examined” allegations and taken “appropriate action”.
Also speaking at the inquiry Nigel Giffin, lawyer for the Archbishop’s Council, which is representing the Church of England, said the Church welcomed the inquiry.
He said, “We are glad that the Church of England will be amongst the first institutions to be considered by the inquiry, even though we are well aware that this will be a difficult process clearly for survivors of abuse sharing their stories and also difficult for the Church to hear about where it has failed.”
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