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Lawyers Dispute Prince’s Evidence

Lawyers representing victims of Peter Ball, formerly the Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, have questioned the status of evidence given by Prince Charles to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church.

The inquiry resumed in London on July 23. Among the questions of the inquiry concerns why and how a written statement by the Prince of Wales was leaked to the media ahead of time.

The Prince of Wales submitted a written statement while others, such as Lord Carey, the 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, have been compelled to appear in person and face cross-examination.

Richard Scorer said there was “surprise and concern” that the prince had been treated differently. It gave the impression the prince was “less than entirely frank about his personal relationship with Peter Ball.”

Apparently lawyers for the prince had argued the inquiry had no power to compel him to make a statement. Professor Alexis Jay, who leads the inquiry, announced at the start of the hearing in London that the inquiry would investigate a leak of the prince’s statement after details were reported in the media a week earlier.

She said the leak was “a very serious breach of confidence” perpetrated by “someone with direct access to information in this investigation.”

Fiona Scolding, QC, told the inquiry that Ball had “influential friends, both within and outside the church.” He and his brother, Michael, were “not shy” about using the prince’s name to influence others in the church, she added.

“To many people, the actions of the church and the police, in 1992 and subsequently, smacked of a cover-up: that those in high places had acted to hush up the offending, and that the church had been more concerned to restore Peter Ball to ministry than to identify, investigate or manage the needs of victims and survivors,” Scolding said.

“Despite his caution [for a count of gross indecency in 1993], Peter Ball was not subject to any disciplinary measures by the church until he was prohibited from ministry for life following his 2015 conviction.”

John Martin

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