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Retired bishop held in child sex abuse probe

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

A retired Church of England bishop living in the Westcountry was among two clergymen arrested by police investigating historic allegations of child sex abuse within the scandal-hit Diocese of Chichester.

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, sources said.

A second man, an unnamed 67-year-old retired priest, was also detained at his home yesterday 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.

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 along 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.

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes, of Sussex Police, who is leading the investigation, said: "Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences."

Mr Ball, a former Bishop of Lewes, resigned as Bishop of Gloucester in 1993.

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