Former Archbishop of Canterbury could face police probe into whether he broke the law by covering up for a paedophile bishop
By Jonathan Petre
November 26, 2017
|Lord Carey, pictured with Princess Diana, could face an investigation over the church's failure to pass on sex abuse complaints made against Peter Ball|
|Peter Ball, pictured with Prince Charles, was jailed for 32 months in 2015 after indecently assaulting 18 boys and young men between 1977 and 1992|
The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey, could face a police investigation into whether he broke the law by covering up for a paedophile bishop.
Officers are understood to be considering a formal inquiry to determine whether the former leader of the Church of England and other senior church officials should face criminal charges over their failure to pass on sex abuse complaints made against ex-bishop Peter Ball.
Such an investigation would be highly controversial and may involve 82-year-old Lord Carey being interviewed under caution.
Sources say police are collecting evidence and scrutinising a scathing Church of England report commissioned by the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.
It concludes that senior church figures ‘colluded’ to protect Ball and says the decision by Lambeth Palace not to pass the complaints to police ‘must give rise to a perception of deliberate concealment’.
Lawyers representing victims of Ball, who have called for a police investigation, believe the former Archbishop could face a charge of misconduct in a public office, for which the maximum penalty is life imprisonment.
Ball, a friend of the Prince of Wales, was jailed for 32 months in 2015 after indecently assaulting 18 boys and young men between 1977 and 1992 in one of the biggest scandals ever to rock the Church of England.
It has been claimed, however, that he might have been convicted more than 20 years earlier had Lord Carey and his staff at Lambeth Palace not withheld from the police six letters making other claims about his behaviour. The letters were sent in by members of the public after allegations against Ball surfaced in the 1990s. Ball was arrested and subsequently resigned as Bishop of Gloucester in 1993.
But his only punishment at that time was a caution for gross indecency for molesting a teenage monk and he was later allowed a licence to work as a retired priest.
Last year, The Mail on Sunday revealed that Anglican officials who had privately reviewed the case suggested that had the letters been given to detectives in 1993, Ball may have been convicted of serious sexual offences.
The report commissioned by Archbishop Welby, published this summer, concluded that the ‘greatest failure’ of the handling of the case was the ‘management’ of the correspondence, in which Lord Carey was ‘significantly involved’.
Lord Carey strongly denies any cover-up or collusion. His supporters have also argued that Ball could still have received a caution in 1993 even if Lambeth Palace had handed the letters to the authorities.
David Greenwood, the head of the child abuse department at Switalskis solicitors and who represents a number of victims of Peter Ball, said the failure to pass them on provided ‘reasonable grounds’ for the Metropolitan police to open a formal investigation.
The Met and Lord Carey both declined to comment.
Lord Carey is already facing questioning next year by the Government’s independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.