The Archbishop of Canterbury has commissioned an independent review into how the Church of England responded to abuse allegations against the disgraced former Bishop of Gloucester Peter Ball.
Bishop Ball, a former Anglican monk who set up his own religious order, pleaded guilty last month to two charges of indecent assault against young men and one charge of misconduct in public office by sexually exploiting 18 men who sought religious guidance from him. Two indecent assault charges against boys aged under 16 were left on file. He is due to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court in London this week.
The Times reports today that the role of former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton is to be examined in the affair, in particular regarding what he knew about secret talks in 1992-93 between the Church of England, police and the Crown Prosecution Service concerning Bishop Ball.
In 1993 Bishop Ball was issued with a caution for one act of gross indecency rather than put on trial.
Operation Dunhill, which finally brought the Bishop to book and led to his arrest in 2011, began after the safeguarding officer at Lambeth Palace, a retired police officer, raised concerns. This followed a review of files initiated by the Church, which worked closely with Sussex Police.
"The independent review will examine the Church of England's cooperation with the police and other statutory agencies and the extent to which it shared information in a timely manner, identifying both good practice and shortcomings alike. It will also assess the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors," the Church said in a statement.
The report will be published next year.
Lord Carey said last month: "I have seen a number of reports which appear to give the misleading impression that I interfered with the process of justice by contacting the Crown Prosecution Service. I only did so after Peter Ball had been cautioned. I wanted to make sure justice had been done."