Prince Charles of Wales is refusing to give a formal statement about his longtime friend and former bishop of Lewes and of Gloucester, Peter Ball, who has admitted to sexually abusing 18 teenagers. According to The Telegraph, Prince Charles’ statement would have been read at a formal inquiry that is looking into the abuse committed by Ball.
Though the first allegations against Ball came to light in 1992, he was not charged then. At the time, “police and CPS decided to give him a caution, and he was stripped of his role as bishop.” Ball, who is reported to have abused the teens between 1977 and 1992 while serving as a bishop, was convicted in 2015 of “misconduct in public office.” He was released in 2017, having only served half his sentence. Later, it was found that Ball was still permitted to officiate at schools and confirmations.
Now, the Anglican Church is being investigated due to their handling of the Ball case. Fiona Scolding, lead counsel to the investigation, said that the first week of hearing would explore the way the church handled the allegations against Ball. According to BBC News, Ball had “influential friends, both within and outside the church.” He reportedly used his friendship with Prince Charles, who he frequently exchanged letters with, to influence people in the church.
When asked her thoughts about the case, Scolding said: “To many people, the actions of the church and the police, in 1992 and subsequently, smacked of a cover-up: that those in high places had acted to hush up the offending, and that the church had been more concerned to restore Peter Ball to ministry than to identify, investigate or manage the needs of victims and survivors.”
Though Prince Charles’ “evidence” was leaked last week and will be read at the hearing on Friday, his lawyers say he cannot be “compelled to give a statement regarding his friendship” with Ball, according to the Daily Mail. In England, a “formal statement of truth is essentially equivalent to swearing on oath.”
Scolding says that a witness statement had been required of Prince Charles. During the process, she notes that there has been a “lengthy and extensive correspondence between Charles’s lawyers and the inquiry. Though most witnesses are expected to make a formal statement, Scolding notes that the inquiry reached an agreement with Prince Charles’ lawyers, saying that “the signed letter was deemed to cover all the topics the inquiry wanted to address.”
Scolding denied the allegation that the letter was released in such a way so as to prevent any cross-examination of Prince Charles.