CHARLES AND THE PERVERT; Inquiry Hears Prince's Regret over Letters of Support to Sex Crimes Bishop

Daily Mail (London), July 28, 2018 | Go to article overview

CHARLES AND THE PERVERT; Inquiry Hears Prince's Regret over Letters of Support to Sex Crimes Bishop


Byline: Mario Ledwith

PRINCE Charles told disgraced bishop Peter Ball he had been the victim of 'monstrous wrongs' and that he was desperate to help him, an inquiry heard yesterday.

In a series of extraordinary letters, the heir to the throne told the bishop, who had quit his post after accepting a caution for gross indecency, that he felt 'desperately strongly' about his treatment. He said: 'I wish I could do more.' In another letter, the prince promised Ball that he would 'see off' an unnamed person connected to the case who he described as a 'horrid man'.

And he suggested perceptions surrounding the allegations were based on 'lies, invention, speculation and sensation'.

The messages of support, contained in private letters, were sent by Charles to Ball after the bishop's caution in 1993. Extracts were read yesterday to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

The inquiry heard that Charles broke off contact with the bishop, with whom he had a long friendship, only in 2015 when Ball was finally convicted of abusing 16 young men over a 15-year period. It is investigating whether the bishop's coterie of Establishment friends, as well as senior figures in the Church of England, were part of a cover-up that helped him avoid justice.

In a written submission yesterday, the prince expressed deep regret at being misled by Ball, a former Bishop of Gloucester, for so long. He said he had not appreciated the meaning of a caution and that it carried 'an acceptance of guilt'.

Ball, also an ex-bishop of Lewes, accepted a caution for one count of gross indecency in 1993 and resigned due to ill health. But it was not until 22 years later that he finally admitted his crimes and was jailed. The 86-year-old was freed in February last year after serving half his 32-month sentence.

The inquiry has this week been looking into claims that the Church turned a blind eye to question marks over Ball's behaviour for years after his caution, allowing him to return to his duties, including visiting schools, before he was eventually convicted in 2015. Charles and the bishop had a close relationship, with the pair praying together at Highgrove and exchanging many letters.

The letters were turned over to the child sex abuse inquiry by both the archbishops' council and the prince himself.

But this came only after weeks of legal wrangling. Clarence House claimed the inquiry could not compel Charles to give evidence and that his human rights could be breached. In one of the letters read to the inquiry yesterday, sent two years after the initial police investigation into Ball ended with a caution and his resignation, the prince told him: 'I wish I could do more.

'I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.' Charles told Ball it was appalling that former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey had reneged on a pledge made in a conversation between the two in 1994 to speed up Ball's return to ministry.

'If it is any consolation, the archbishop has written me a letter (between you and me) in which it is also clear that he is frightened of the Press - what he calls public perception,' he said.

He said this was a 'perception of events and characters based entirely on lies, invention, speculation and sensation'.

In another letter to Ball, in 1997, Charles addressed concerns that an unnamed person connected with the case was bothering him by promising: 'I'll see off this horrid man if he tries anything again.' 'I can't bear it that the frightful, terrifying man is on the loose again and doing his worst,' he said. Charles told the inquiry he could not shed any light on the identity of who he was talking about, but hinted that it was a journalist.

The 69-year-old prince used his evidence to insist that he had never tried to interfere with criminal investigations into Ball, or applied pressure to church figures for him to return to work. …

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