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  1. ITV Report

Former Bishop 'released from prison' after serving half his sentence for sexual abuse

Peter Ball, 83, formerly Bishop of Gloucester and Bishop of Lewes Photo: PA

A former Bishop of Gloucester who was jailed for sexually abusing young men is believed to have walked free from prison after serving half of his jail sentence.

Peter Ball, who is from Langport in Somerset, admitted abusing more than a dozen young men between the 1970s, and 1990s.

The 83 year old was sentenced to 2 and a half years in October 2015 after pleading guilty to a string of historical offences, including two counts of indecent assault.

After 16 months behind bars, the early release of the 84-year-old from jail, understood to have been on Friday, has been branded an "affront to justice" and a "huge blow to his victims".

This was a man whose appalling crimes represented a gross and systematic abuse of trust spanning decades.

– Richard Scorer, specialist abuse lawyer
The CoE said Ball has been prohibited from ministry for life. Credit: ITV News

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represent a number of Ball's victims, said: "Ball's early release after serving just half of his sentence is a huge blow to his victims.

Ball was originally investigated in 1993 and was given a caution for gross indecency by police after abusing a trainee monk.

Peter Ball arriving at the Old Bailey for sentencing. Credit: PA

A Church of England spokeswoman said Ball's offences were "a matter of deep shame and regret".

"The Church has apologised unreservedly to the survivors who were brave enough to come forward."

The CoE said Ball has been prohibited from ministry for life.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said sex offenders are "robustly risk assessed and subject to a strict set of conditions".

"If they fail to comply, they can be recalled to prison."