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‘We Have Been Fobbing People Off’

Lord Carey, the retired 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, testified that he is “deeply ashamed” about the Church of England’s failure to discipline Peter Ball, former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester.

Carey gave evidence in testimony July 24 before the long-running Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church. Carey, who led the church at the time of Ball’s arrest in December 1992, said the church had failed Ball’s victims “in a number of different ways.”

He said Ball’s victims “fell into the trap of a pretty wicked person, a deluded person who used his considerable influence to shape them wrongly.”

He said the church “did not have safeguarding procedures in place” at the time. In retrospect, Carey said, he should have appointed a committee to recommend responses to abuse accusations. The church was “behind the curve” in dealing with these matters, he said.

There was some awareness of abuse, and some parents had written to the church, but there was “no widespread understanding” of the issue, Carey said. The church did not send parents’ letters to police.

“We mishandled this, that’s very clear,” Carey said. “We have been fobbing people off. They should have had direct replies.”

Carey said he had believed Ball’s protestations of innocence for “quite some time.” He added he could not believe that a bishop in the Church of England “could do such evil things.” He was keen to keep an open mind on Ball until allegations were proven.

Following a police caution in 1997 prompted by his admissions of gross indecency, Ball was restored to full ministry by Lord Carey.

“Theologically I saw the possibility of a fresh start for him in a very limited fashion,” Carey said. “Looking back now, I would have done things differently.”

John Martin

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