Former Bishop of Lewes charged with sexual offences

The former Bishop of Gloucester and Bishop of Lewes is to be prosecuted for sexual offences committed against a young boy and man while in office.

Bishop Peter Ball, now aged 82, is being prosecuted in relation to alleged offences between October 1977 and December 1992. 

The bishop, of Langport, Somerset, is accused of misconduct in public office while a bishop in the Church of England by "misusing his position and authority to manipulate and prevail upon others for his own sexual gratification".

The charges include an alleged indecent assault on a boy aged between 12 and 13 in 1978, and a man aged 19 to 20 between 1980 and 1982.

Bishop Ball was arrested last November but it was deemed at the time that he was not medically fit enough to be interviewed by the police. 

Jaswant Narwal, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East, said: "In accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors, there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and it is in the public interest to prosecute."

The Church of England has been working closely with Sussex police throughout the investigation and is encouraging people affected to come forward.  A confidential helpline has been set up at 0800 389 5344.

The Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Paul Butler, who also chairs the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, said: "The Church of England takes any allegations of abuse very seriously and is committed to being a safe place for all. But we can never be complacent.

"We would like to urge any victims or those with information to feel free to come forward knowing that they will be listened to in confidence.We have also put support systems in place for all those affected in anyway by today's charges."

He added: "Although we cannot comment on this case any further at the moment, lessons must be learnt and it is our mission that all our churches are places of safety and joy, of justice and the enrichment of life."

Bishop Ball is due to appear at Brighton Magistrates Court on April 10.