Bishop Peter Ball: Questions for Carey

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Richard Scorer

Richard Scorer is Head of the Abuse team at Slater and Gordon lawyers, and author of Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis, published by Biteback Books.

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With the release of some of the letters written in support of Bishop Peter Ball during the 1992-1993 police investigation, particularly those written by prominent people, we’re starting to see more clearly how Ball was protected.

The spotlight has rightly fallen on former Archbishop George Carey, who seems reluctant to discuss the subject: on Tuesday, in response to further revelations in The Times, a spokesman for Carey said that he was “abroad yesterday and unlikely to be able to comment”. But the questions mount, and we need to hear from him.

Before itemising those questions, just to recap what we now know: firstly, that on 5 February 1993, Carey wrote to the Chief Constable of Gloucestershire regarding the allegations against Ball. In this letter Carey described the allegations against Ball as “most improbable” and asserted that “if he is guilty of unprofessional behaviour it is quite unrepresentative of his style“. Whilst noting that “special pleading” on Ball’s behalf would be “entirely inappropriate”, Carey went on to explain to the Chief Constable that he felt “justified in drawing to your attention the excruciating pain and torment” which these allegations have inevitably brought upon Ball, whom Carey described as a “wonderful and honourable man” (if this isn’t “special pleading”, I’m not sure what is). We also know that in March 1993 Carey wrote to the DPP, Barbara Mills, pressing her to make a decision quickly given Ball’s “fragile health” (interesting, isn’t it, when “fragile health” is deployed by child abusers facing charges: as it turned out, Ball was well enough to face trial in 2015, some 22 years later).

Secondly, we now know that in January 1993, i.e. the month before Carey wrote this letter, he had been in receipt of a report about Ball’s conduct from his chief of staff, the Right Rev Ronald Gordon. We don’t have a full copy of this report; all we have is a heavily redacted version disclosed (pursuant to a data protection request) to a man who had written to Carey in December 1992 to express his concerns about Ball’s behaviour some 10 years previously (This man, who wishes to remain anonymous so I’m calling him AB, has kindly passed this redacted version to me).

Despite the redactions, it’s clear that this report followed a long meeting between Gordon and Ball in January 1993 (Gordon’s report helpfully records that the meeting lasted from 11.30am to 2.10pm “with a short break for sandwiches”).  During the meeting Gordon and Ball discussed “correspondence the Archbishop had received referring to past events in Ball’s life”. Gordon’s report records that he felt no need to ask for more detail of what happened between AB and Ball as “there is already enough evidence to suggest a picture of what has been happening“. The clear implication, even in redacted version, is that a number of pieces of evidence about Ball’s behaviour had come to the church’s attention- enough in fact to “suggest a clear picture of what has been happening” , namely , the widespread and systematic abuse of young men.

And yet only a few days later Carey wrote to the Chief Constable claiming that the allegation which the police were investigating (ie. from Neil Todd) was “improbable” and “quite unrepresentative” of Ball’s behaviour.

Further, in September 2015 Carey stated that: “I have seen a number of reports which appear to give the misleading impression that I interfered with the process of justice by contacting the Crown Prosecution Service. I only did so after Ball had been cautioned“. (See BBC website, “Bishop Ball sex charges caution ‘wrong’ admits CPS” 13.09.15).

We now know, from the recent release of the letters, that this is plainly not correct: Carey wrote to the Chief Constable on 5 February 1993; he wrote to the CPS on 2 March 1993; and it was only after those letters that the prosecution of Ball was abandoned and a caution administered.

As I told The Times, unless Carey has a very good explanation, this has all the hallmarks of a cover-up. So two things now need to happen: the Gordon report now needs to be released in full, and Carey needs to answer the following questions :

1.        Why did you tell the Chief Constable in February 1993 that the allegation against Ball being investigated by the police was “improbable” and “unrepresentative” when you appear to have had an internal report suggesting otherwise?

2.         Why didn’t you share the additional information in that report with the police, so they could follow up further lines of enquiry?

3.         Why did you apparently procure for Ball a guarantee of no further prosecution, despite knowing of other allegations against him? ( maybe this question answers itself…).

4.         Why did you allow Ball to continue to officiate at services after being cautioned , despite having a “clear picture of what has been happening”?

5.         Why did you claim last year that you only wrote to the authorities after the caution, when this wasn’t the case?

These questions matter a great deal. With the 1993 caution deal, Ball escaped justice for 22 years. One of his victims, Neil Todd, no doubt bitterly frustrated by the failure of the authorities to accord his allegations  the seriousness they deserved, committed suicide. And Ball’s other victims were left to nurse their pain, not knowing that many others shared their wounds.  Although Carey is no longer Archbishop of Canterbury, he remains a senior figure in the Church of England: so if anyone is going to take seriously Archbishop Welby’s claim that the church now puts victims first, Carey needs to give a full explanation of his actions. Those who have suffered so grievously from Ball’s behaviour deserve nothing less.

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Richard Scorer is Head of the Abuse team at Slater and Gordon lawyers, and author of Betrayed: The English Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis, published by Biteback Books.

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Bishop Peter Ball: Questions for Carey

  1. wtf. My jaw hit the ground. Scorer is one of the worst ambulance chasers I’ve known in 20 years. To think anyone would offer him a platform is beyond me.

  2. Pingback: Bishop Ball: Questions for Carey | Alternative News Network

  3. David

    Most of the Clergy are still paedophiles. Geoffrey Fisher,Headmaster of Repton School , was reluctant to become Archbishop of Canterbury because he would have to give up birching boys. Clergy from Westminster Abbey regularly meet with retired Headmasters, etc, in specialist pubs, in London, talking about ‘boys’. Paedophilia and religion are still very closely entwined.

    • Jack

      Indeed, I am fast coming to the view that religion was devised to give men power over others and allow them free reign to do what they wanted. It provides ideal cover for paedophiles.

  4. NICKY BIRD

    His name was Bishop BELL. This might not seem important but anyone making accusations should at least know his name. I have no idea whether there is any truth in the allegations but they are just that, allegations. The tone of this article is one of presumption of guilt. That is the opposite of our jurisprudence, and it is not prudent. Bishop Bell was the bravest of anti-fascists, the only clergyman in the Lords who spoke out against area bombing, the firm friend of Bonhoeffer and others in the anti-Nazi opposition. He deserves respect as a truly noble bishop, and deserves a fair hearing in death. The C of E has rushed to judgement. If truth emerges as to a darker side then so be it, but it is not proven or proved. Too many people on this site seem to think that an accusation means guilt.

    • iantoosmart

      Peter Ball is not the same person as Bishop George Bell, who stood against area bombing. There are rumours about the latter, but they are not repeated here. Bishop Peter Ball is a convicted sex offender who is currently in prison.

    • gw

      I think you are confused with Peter Ball and George Bell.

    • Jack

      Yes and the noted paedophile Grevile Janner also spoke out against Nazis. Your point being ?

    • Jack

      It IS Ball and he has been CONVICTED . These are not mere allegations.

  5. l8in

    Reblogged this on L8in.

  6. artmanjosephgrech

    This is a non issue There was cover up by the institutions of state for good and bad reasons. There always has been and there always will as there are by commercial bodies . At a top international management course I attended in 1984 the commercial value of hiring creative people prepared to cross the line was emphasised as well as the need to plan to sever all links and personal accountability when the crossed the line and were caught s we have seen in recent times from bankers fixing rates, FI firms stealing each others technology and car manufacturers fixing emission readings to meet national standards.

    Obviously if evidence is available and can be judged upon criminal action in some cases and civil damages in others then the truth may become available but for every instance coming to attention and taken up by media or a politicians there are many which do not

  7. paul

    nicky bird ,you seem to have got the wrong name. its convicted paedophile bishop peter ball.

  8. tdf

    We have seen this movie before, as the saying goes – with the Roman Catholic Church cover-ups – notoriously in Ireland, but also in Australia and some dioceses in the US, and elsewhere. David, with respect, I’m not sure I’d agree that paedophilia is in some way inherent to religions or the religious, I think it’s more to do with abuses of power within ‘closed’ systems. http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/absolute-power-corrupts-absolutely.html

  9. Jack

    This reveals Carey as a liar, a paedophile protector and a heretic . The lake of fire awaits.

  10. dpack

    there are many examples of “churches” being the means of access and their hierarchies conducting subsequent mitigations,cover ups and denials.

    perhaps making it clear that there is no place to hide,that those with information will be heard and protected and that the guilty and those who protect them for whatever reason will be held to account will affect future conduct.

  11. Janine

    its all absolute bullshit with Money being the only common denominator here and with any case of ‘abuse of power’…..controlling the police, the media, the press, the perpetrators and their lawyers.

    The real truth lies with the victims who are ‘bound to silence’ in a way as they do not have the support, muster or money to take on the status of the church, palaces, politicians or celebrities.

    Operation Yewtree? Scotland Yard? A pitiful excuse for holding down a job and shuffling paperwork – nothing more – a JOKE!

    The only viable closure and great equalizer is Karma….. and if you wait patiently enough, you may even get to see it being played out….

    as in the tragic downfall and awkward ending to a career recently whereby The Voice had lost his Voice…… ;-)

  12. Andy Barnett.

    Religion has always been used to gain power over the gullible, the weak and the self-serving. Kingdoms and Empires have relied on it for centuries for bringing order and obedience. Like Politics, the people that benefit from it care little whether the dogma is true or the power gained is used for good or ill – so long as they are the ones that have it.

    • artmanjosephgrech

      an excellent comment in terms of the way those in government or national institutional bodies which include religions with hierarchical structures are required by each institution to ensure the individual and sometimes collective will within the control management of the organisation is followed. The problem has always been that that the bigger in the institution in terms of adherents participations or populations in national state and the longer and complex the control/management structure. the more likely what is wanted at the top is misunderstood misinterpreted ignored by those in the chain. and this is when the Will the policy and decision is intended to do more good than harm

      Obvious where the person gaining power gaining authority in chain is already a villain or more likely just someone out for themselves , their families and friends then the likelihood of good intention become good practice becomes more wishful. One has only got to see what has happened during in the early years of revolutions with good intent as in France Russia and China to be opposed to any form of violent revolution and cautions about any revolution which is not planned thought through and well managed.

      In all states and organisations where there is no officially recognised opposition it is comparatively easy to control the people through control of the military, the police, the use of secret police, the judiciary, and the media. This applies to major religious bodies like the Catholic Church which is world wide and in the UK the official churches of the national state but not the Muslin faith except in those countries where the state and the faith are intertwined

      In countries where there is just a government and one official opposition such as in the UK and the USA the problem is that the opposition wants to be the government and usually has been in government and therefore is more likely to be a mirror of the other political party While there needs to be a strong single party for any effective government the best prospect for the will of the majority being represented is that one major party and one or more other parties being in collation as this entail compromise and modification of policies of a single party.

      It is important to understand the tribal nature of human beings and how this is reflected today in what are regarded as the most advanced, wealthy and civilized nations..

      It also important to separate the use of power in the well motivated interests of a state , religion or organisation to protect and further the interests of the state institution. organisation from the abuse of power to self protect the personal position or that of a relative or associate or where more harm than good to people for whom one has responsibility is likely to occur.

      For example the democratic governments always receive the down side to any policy , legislation or decision as well as the good it will do in terms of what the government believes should be done. The Tories and most large commercial organisation are opposed to public service so any policy to reduce the role of public service by reductions expenditure must result in harm to those and their families made redundant or require to take less paid work and for those who needed the services before. This is not rocket science and there is always a downside to all policies legislation and decision taking in addition to the law of unintended consequences.

      Even where 51% of the population voted for one party, one system, one view of the world there will 49% who did not or who were disinterested and in a situation where a government has significantly less support with the overwhelming majority in opposition then there is likely to be more of a problem and inclination is to take greater control of the military, the police and the judiciary and media through the great use of you scratch my back I will scratch yours, the use of informants and undercover operatives.

      The truth is that in all national including democracies some people are always expendable in terms of their life and the way they are expected to live

  13. LJMT

    Why does no one mention the fact that some people are very reluctant to think ill of others and want to think the best? They think it is good and “non-judgementalism” has been very much the rage both within and without the church, let us be truthful to the zeitgeist of the age.

    However this kind of innocence can be very dangerous, and Jesus told us to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves”.

    Many clergy are deeply conscientious; that doesn’t mean they are necessarily the dominant voices within the church. Carey probably understimated the extent to which certain proclivities were represented within certain circles not his own.

    • artmanjosephgrech

      The film Spotlight which opens in the UK later this months deals with the cover up in the Catholic in Boston where 65 of the priests were found to be paedophiles and which could be something like the number in the whole community on top of which one has to had what normally goes on in families , the armed services on rest and relaxation and those who use prostitutes and brothels and what men do generally in wars including civil conflicts whether political, economic religious or just tribal.

      The other point is that all large organisations of state, business, voluntary cover up whether trying out new drugs, products that out faulty or which break laws such as emissions from cars the basic failure of medical and nursing practice, lawyers and judges letting the guilt go free and putting the innocent, or at least not guilt of the crimes accused behind bars. taking children into care who are them more harmed than the circumstances justifying the actions a d failing to protect some children in the community at greater risk of harm. then the state using methods committing crimes etc.

      Mostly this is done for protectionism of the state the organisation its good name and public confidence… it is also done to protect the reputation of individuals who also have done good, the reputations of those who employed them and from tribalism.

      The majority of human beings in any state are expendable in the interests of the state.. how many civilians died during the two world wars ? More civilians dies in France as the allies moved towards Germany than service men dies on the beaches landing. We bombed Dresden out of revenge for Coventry . we sank the Belgrano as it was sailing away from the Falklands
      Harold Wilson covered up that the Keeper of the Royal Art and a relative of the Queen mother was also a spy for the Russians and it was Margaret Thatcher who used a Labour MP to ask a PMQ six months after she first became Prime Minister to out him but he was still not prosecuted because of use of the Royal Prerogative and 30 years after her famed media man said in an article that she did this because she did not believe in cover up.