Disgraced sex abuse bishop Peter Ball set to join Catholic Church after 'battering' by Church of England

A disgraced Anglican bishop jailed for sex offences is looking to join the Catholic Church to 'live and worship in anonymity' after he was released from prison.

Peter Ball, now 85, was imprisoned for 32 months in October 2015 after being found guilty of abusing 18 teenagers and young men in cases between the 1970s and 1990s. The former Bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester is, alongside his twin brother and former bishop Michael Ball, considering joining the Catholic Church following his release from jail in February after serving 16 months.

Bishop Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison. He served half that term before he was released on licence in February.

In an email mistakenly sent to the BBC, Michael Ball said they had received a 'battering by the Church' which had 'totally wearied and reduced us'.

The message appeared to be intended for friends and said: 'Peter and Michael will not be sending Christmas Cards this year. The events of the last years and rightly or wrongly the battering by the Church have totally wearied and reduced us.

'We will proabably [sic] be joining the Roman Catholic Church soon. We love the Church of England but would like to end our days in a church where we can live and worship in anonymity and without constant fear.

'We send our love and are enormously grateful fo [sic] the kindness and continued support of so many. We hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a joyful New Year.'

Michael Ball confirmed later the move the Catholic Church was a 'possibility' when asked by the BBC and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton said in a statement: 'We confirm that Peter Ball has been in contact with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton, in which diocese he now lives, expressing an interest in becoming a member of the Catholic Church.

'This matter is subject to discussions between Clifton Diocese and the statutory authorities, who are the lead with regards to Peter Ball's risk management in the community.'

It comes after a damning independent review into the case by Dame Moira Gibb found the Church of England had 'colluded' with Ball allowing the abuse to be covered up.

The report, published in June, particularly criticised the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey for ignoring a series of complaints about Ball from his victims after he was initially arrested in 1992. He failed to pass six letters from families and individuals onto the police and allowed Ball to return to ministry even after his initial arrest in the 1990s.