Disgraced bishop was not charged with sex abuse to avoid embarrassing the Church, documents reveal

Peter Ball was found to have abused his position as the bishop of Lewes in southern England.National Secular Society

A former Anglican bishop and monk was given a caution for sex abuse and not charged in order to minimise embarrassment to the Church of England, according to newly-released documents.

Peter Ball went from being Bishop of Lewes from 1977 to Bishop of Gloucester in 1992. He resigned just a year later in 1993 after receiving a poice caution for gross indecency with a teenage man, but was only jailed in October last year for a string of historic sex abuse offences.

Details have now been published of the 29-page dossier compiled by the two detectives who investigated Ball in 1992.

Ball, 83, was jailed for 32 months last year after he admitted 18 abuse offences against young men and teenagers between 1977 and 1992. One victim, Neil Todd, committed suicide in 2012.

The report by Detective Inspector Wayne Murdock and Acting Detective Sergeant Andrew Wasley, obtained by The Sunday Times under a Freedom of Information request, reveals that police were told Ball would resign and go abroad to work as a missionary in exchange for not being charged.

Although he did resign, he remained in Engand and was allowed to continue working as a priest.

The detectives were convinced of his guilt and believed he had been less than truthful. They believed he concealed his sexual desires behind his religion. However, police felt that charging him would "have a devastating effect on the church" and a caution "would possibly minimise embarrassment to the church". Detectives were advised there was growing concern for Ball's mental state and suicide could not be ruled out.

Murdock said charging Ball would "counter any possible suggestions of an Establishment cover-up" but also warned that to "charge and proceed will probably have a devastating effect on the church, which is already in turmoil."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has set up an independent review of the case.