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John Stillwell/PA Wire
UK News

Bishop Peter Ball victim quits church abuse review

by Hannah Tooley

Ball, 84, was jailed in 2015 for a series of offences against teenagers and young people spanning the 1970's, 80's and 90's.

The former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester was sentenced to 32 months in prison in 2015.

A clergyman who was abused by a former bishop has said that he will not work with a review into the Church of England's investigations.

Revd Graham Sawyer, who waived his right to anonymity, wrote in a letter, seen by the BBC, that he made the decision due to the fact "bullying and silencing" were not in the terms of reference of the review.

The Church has said that the Peter Ball case "was a matter of deep shame and regret".

Dame Moira Gibb was announced as the chair of an independent review into the Peter Ball case, tasked with finding out what information the Church had, who possessed information and when they had it.

In his letter to Dame Moira Gibb, Revd Graham Sawyer said: "I realise that decisions over terms of reference are not your prerogative.

"Nevertheless, that there has clearly been resistance to suggestions of them specifically mentioning bullying, vilification and silencing, sends a worrying but sadly very predictable signal from the Church of England at its very highest levels that these systemically vital matters are not going to be addressed with the fundamental importance they deserve.

"Please inform Archbishop Welby that I therefore decline to give evidence to the review he has established because of the failure of the terms of reference to be amended to include bullying and silencing with a plea for him personally to reconsider this."

Witnesses are under no obligation to give evidence to the review.

A Church of England spokesperson said: "The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, commissioned Dame Moira Gibb to lead an independent review to take a detailed look into how the Church handled the Peter Ball case.

"The Church has offered an unreserved apology to all the survivors and commended the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward, acknowledging how difficult and distressing this would have been.

"Archbishop Justin has publicly said it is a matter of deep shame and regret that a bishop in the Church of England committed these offences and there are no excuses whatsoever for what took place and the systematic abuse of trust perpetrated by Peter Ball over decades.

"The Review, which started in February and is expected to last a year, will provide the Church as a whole with an opportunity to learn lessons which will improve our safeguarding practice and policy."

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