Archbishop Did Not Pass Abuse Claims to Police, Goddard Inquiry Told
By Rajeev Syal and Harriet Sherwood
March 16, 2016
|George Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury. Photograph: Charles Miller/AP|
The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey failed to pass on a specific allegation of sexual abuse to the police, which allowed a bishop to continue committing offences for another 20 years, a public inquiry has heard.
Carey was sent a detailed letter by an alleged victim of the bishop, Peter Ball, in 1992 outlining claims of sexual abuse, a preliminary hearing of the independent inquiry into child sex abuse (IICSA) was told.
The claim emerged at a preliminary hearing of a public inquiry that is examining child sexual abuse and cover-ups in the Anglican church in England and Wales.
Last year, Ball was sentenced to 32 months in prison for misconduct in public office and indecent assault after admitting abusing 18 young men between 1977 and 1992.
Richard Scorer, a partner at Slater and Gordon, which represents victims of Ball, said the victim known as A13 by the inquiry knew Ball through family. He said A13 wrote to Carey outlining the abuse in 1992, but the claims were not given to the police.
“We believe that George Carey failed to pass that information on to the police and that was one reason why a proper investigation into Ball’s activities was delayed by over 20 years,” Scorer said.
A spokesman for Carey, who is now a peer, said: “Lord Carey said he had no recollection of receiving this allegation in 1992 to which Mr Scorer referred, nor any other knowledge of Mr Scorer’s claims.”
Last year, it emerged that in 1993, when Ball was being investigated for alleged sex offences, Carey wrote to the then director of public prosecutions in support of the bishop.
He wrote that Ball was in “torment” as a result of the police investigation, that his health was fragile and that the decision on whether to prosecute should be made “as speedily as possible”.
Ball was eventually told he would not be prosecuted, and received a caution instead. He resigned as bishop of Gloucester in 1993. He was previously bishop of Lewes.
A spokesperson for Carey said the archbishop would not give a running commentary on claims that come before the inquiry but would appear if called by the presiding judge, Lowell Goddard.
On Wednesday, the inquiry set out its plans to scrutinise the Church of England’s policies and practices, including claims of cover-ups by senior figures in the church.
On Tuesday, a damning review of the church’s failures to respond to a survivor over a period of almost 40 years called for far-reaching cultural and structural change.
Last year, the C of E issued an apology and paid compensation to an alleged victim of George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester who died in 1958. The survivor first reported being abused as a small child by Bell 20 years ago, but the matter was not investigated or referred to police at the time.
Other members of the clergy in the diocese have been convicted or accused of child sex abuse. In 2012, an inquiry ordered by the then archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, concluded that the diocese had “an appalling history” of child protection failures, and said “fresh and disturbing” allegations continued to emerge.
Ben Emmerson QC, senior counsel for the IICSA, said the inquiry would look at whether a number of previous investigations into allegations of child abuse in the diocese had been misled by the church or other individuals.
Another strand of the inquiry will look into allegations of sexual abuse by the late MP Cyril Smith and exploitation at institutions linked to Rochdale borough council. It will consider the extent to which children with special needs, disabilities or other vulnerabilities may have been at greater risk of sexual abuse and whether their vulnerabilities led to failings in protecting them.
Senior Liberal Democrat figures, Greater Manchester police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Rochdale council have all been accused of missing chances to uncover abuse by Smith, who died in 2010.
Turning to claims of child sex abuse and cover-up in Rochdale, the inquiry heard that in March 1970, a file of evidence involving allegations of abuse against Smith from eight young men was submitted by police to the director of public prosecutions, but the submission was rejected.
In 1998 and 1999, Greater Manchester police passed two separate files to the CPS about Smith’s alleged activities at a children’s home called Cambridge House, but on both occasions no further action was recommended.
Police also investigated Smith’s involvement with the Knowl View care home in Rochdale, but during this investigation no allegations of sexual abuse were made against Smith.
Alleged victims of Smith are hoping that the inquiry will give full access to the prosecution files, allowing the public to see who made the decisions and if Smith or others put police or prosecutors under pressure to drop the charges.
The inquiry will examine whether Smith exploited his positions as an MP, councillor, mayor and school governor to secure “inappropriate access” to children, the inquiry heard.
Goddard said she would consider applications to broadcast some of the inquiry’s proceedings, but would take into account the wishes of victims and survivors who wished to preserve their anonymity.
To this end, a further preliminary hearing will take place to discuss how best to protect vulnerable witnesses, the inquiry was told.
Nine men now in middle or old age are expected to give evidence to the inquiry later in the year on the abuse Smith inflicted on them. Smith was Labour mayor of Rochdale in the 1960s and Liberal then Liberal Democrat MP for the town from 1972 to 1992.
Goddard’s inquiry, which is expected to take five years, will look at various institutions and public figures and scrutinise the police, the CPS, the Labour party and the security and intelligence agencies, as well as people of public prominence associated with Westminster.