More allegations in ex-bishop probe

The Rt Rev Peter Ball, 80, was arrested at his home near Langport, Somerset, on Tuesday Photo: PA

Police investigating allegations of sex offences against boys and young men say seven more people have come forward claiming they were abused.

The Rt Rev Peter Ball, who is 80 and retired, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of sex offences against eight boys and young men aged from 12 to their early 20s in East Sussex and elsewhere in the late 1970s and 1990s, sources said.

Since an arrest, Sussex Police said a further seven people have come forward making allegations of abuse against them.

A number of people have also stepped forward with potentially useful information, although not alleging that offences had been committed against them.

Mr Ball, a former Bishop of Lewes who resigned as Bishop of Gloucester in 1993, was released at his home on the afternoon of his arrest on medical advice. Police will now question him at a later date.

He was arrested at around the same time as a second clergyman, an unnamed 67-year-old retired priest, who was held at his home near Haywards Heath, on suspicion of separate sex offences against two male teenagers aged 17 and 18 in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983.

Police said three more people have alleged abuse by him since his arrest, mainly in Sussex. He has been freed on police bail until November 29, pending further inquiries.

Detectives said they were interested to hear from anyone else as part of their inquiry, codenamed Operation Dunhill, saying that every report was being followed up.

Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes, who is leading the investigation, said: "Calls are treated with great sensitivity. The force will always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending, and every possible step is taken to investigate whenever appropriate.

"Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences."

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 still no allegations of recent or current offending, and there was no suggestion that any young people are at risk.

The Rt Rev Paul Butler, Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham and chair of the Churches National Safeguarding Committee, has said that the Church was working closely with Sussex Police with their investigation.

And the Bishop of Chichester, the Rt Rev Martin Warner, said the Church authorities were committed to bringing any alleged criminal matters to the attention of the police and "to ensure that the Diocese of Chichester is a safe place for all in our Church communities".

A free helpline staffed by the NSPCC has been set up on 0800 389 5344.