On October 5th 2015, the Archbishop of Canterbury announced the commissioning of an independent review of the way the Church of England responded to the case of Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Gloucester. The review follows the guilty plea by Peter Ball to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office. The review will be conducted by an independent Review Group, who will examine the Church of England’s response to the abusive conduct of Peter Ball.
During a hearing at the Central Criminal Court on September 8th 2015 Peter Ball pleaded guilty to two charges of indecent assault and one charge of misconduct in public office following the work of Sussex police as part of Operation Dunhill. He was sentenced to 32 months imprisonment at a subsequent hearing on 7th October 2015. Peter Ball had become the Bishop of Gloucester in April 1992 and it was during his time of office there or previously as the Bishop of Lewes that the offences occurred. He had been cautioned for an offence of gross indency in 1993 and resigned though he was allowed to officiate in various ways in the intervening years.
Operation Dunhill was initiated after a review of closed cases undertaken by the Church raised concerns about this case and the earlier caution.
Significant questions have been raised about the Church's handling of this case at the time of the caution and thereafter. As a result the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned an independent review of the way the Church responded which should help the Church learn lessons and improve safeguarding practice.
This independent review will examine what information was available to the Church of England, who had this information and when, and provide a detailed and transparent account of the response including whether it was in line with Church and statutory policy and legislation. It will also consider the extent to which the Church both properly assessed the possible risk that Bishop Ball might pose to others and responded adequately to concerns and representations submitted by survivors.
The terms of reference of the Independent Peter Ball Review can be found here.
The Archbishop has confirmed that the report of the review will be published.