Retired bishop held in abuse probe

A retired bishop was among two clergymen arrested by police investigating historic allegations of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Chichester

A retired bishop was among two clergymen arrested by police investigating historic allegations of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Chichester

First published in National News © by

A retired Church of England bishop who was among two clergymen arrested by police investigating historic allegations of child sex abuse has been released while the inquiry continues.

Peter Ball, 80, was held at his home near Langport, Somerset, on suspicion of eight sex offences against eight boys and young men aged from 12 to their early 20s in East Sussex and elsewhere in the late 1980s and 1990s.

A second man, an unnamed 67-year-old retired priest, was also detained at his home on Tuesday morning near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, on suspicion of separate sex offences against two teenage boys in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983.

Sussex Police said that an 80-year-old man was released at his home on medical advice and it was their intention to interview him at a later date.

The 67-year-old man was released on police bail November 29 while inquiries continue.

The arrests follow a review and subsequent inquiry over the past six months by a team of Sussex Police detectives. The investigation followed receipt by police in May this year from Lambeth Palace of two reports from a CofE safeguarding consultant.

They contained reviews of Church files relating to safeguarding matters of young people in the Diocese of Chichester during the 1980s and early 1990s. Officers described it as a "very complex inquiry" during which many people, who are all now adults, have had to be traced with witnesses and records.

Police said there were no allegations of recent or current offending, and there was no suggestion that any young people are at risk. Officers also said the claims are being treated separately and do not involve the two men allegedly acting together.

The arrest of Mr Ball, a former Bishop of Lewes who resigned as Bishop of Gloucester in 1993, and a second retired clergyman comes after the CofE issued an "unreserved apology" earlier this year for historic cases of child abuse by some of its clergy.

It said the church was working closely with Sussex Police on the investigation.

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