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Stopping disgraced bishop’s return to ministry would have been ‘ghastly’, retired judge claims

Sat 28 Jul 2018
By Press Association

A retired judge has told the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that it would have been "ghastly" for a bishop who resigned after being cautioned for gross indecency never to return to ministry.

Lord Anthony Lloyd of Berwick said he remains friends with disgraced bishop Peter Ball, who was jailed in 2015 for sexually abusing 18 young men over 30 years.

The inquiry heard the former member of the House of Lords had written to various people including the chief constable of Gloucestershire Police and the Archbishop of Canterbury about Ball before his conviction.

 

Asked at the hearing in London on Friday why he had done so, he said he thought it "right" that people should know "what sort of man Peter Ball was".

He said: "It was, as I think it is described somewhere, a perfectly straightforward letter intended really to show what sort of man he was."

He earlier told the inquiry of his thoughts when he met Ball.

He said: "He had very remarkable gifts, great spiritual gifts. When he preached, people wanted to hear what he had to say and I liked him very much. We then became very good friends, and we still are."

Ball resigned as bishop of Gloucester following his 1993 caution.

For Ball to have never returned to ministry following that would have been "a ghastly result", Lord Lloyd said.

He told the inquiry: "You could not, as it were, if he resigned as the bishop of Gloucester, leave him with nothing to do, bearing in mind he was still a minister with the church. And to leave him with nothing to do, no decent employer would do that."

Lord Lloyd insisted he had never tried to influence the police investigation into Ball.

Counsel to the inquiry Fiona Scolding put it to him: "One could be, as you have described Peter Ball, 'the most saintly person that ever lived', but one could still be guilty of criminal offending."

He replied: "Of course he could be guilty."

He added: "I do not try to justify what Peter Ball did. Of course I don't."

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