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Prince Charles to give evidence about bishop convicted of abuse

Credit: PA

The major inquiry into historical allegations of child abuse will hear evidence from a member of the Royal Family today.

Prince Charles has submitted a witness statement about a former bishop who has been convicted of abusing young men.

His statement will be read out this morning to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse.

The Prince of Wales maintained contact over many years with Peter Ball – a former Bishop of Gloucester.

The prince’s country residence, Highgrove, is in the Diocese of Gloucester.

Prince Charles is expected to state that it is "a matter of deep personal regret" that he was misled by Ball, who had claimed to the prince that he was simply a victim of a vendetta from someone who held a personal grudge against him.

In fact, Ball was sent to jail in 2015 for a number of sex offences against men and boys between the 1970s and 19990s when he was Bishop of Lewes in East Sussex.

Peter Ball is a former Bishop of Gloucester. Credit: PA

Ball had actually been cautioned by police in 1993 but he and the Prince maintained a regular level of correspondence – mostly by letter.

The Prince is expected to tell the Inquiry that he was unaware that a "caution" in legal terms carries an implication of guilt.

A caution, once known as a police caution, is a formal warning given by the police to an adult who admitted committing an offence.

In his statement, the Prince will say that he was unaware of the 1993 caution until Ball informed him of it in 2009 and, even then, Charles will say he was not aware of the legal significance of it.

Prince Charles’s statement will also insist that at no point did he ever speak up for Ball with any of his superiors such as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

However, because of a lack of a trial or a conviction, it seems the Prince gave Ball the benefit of the doubt over many years.

The Prince will say he was unaware of the 1993 caution until 2009. Credit: PA

Only after the conclusion of Ball’s trial in 2015, did the Prince sever all ties with the former Bishop.

Those close to the Prince of Wales say, when it comes to allegations against others, he only ever deals with facts.

And in the absence of facts – or a conviction – in this case he simply offered sympathy to Ball.

Prince Charles’ statement is also expected to address why it was that Ball and his brother became tenants of the Duchy of Cornwall – which is the Prince’s privately owned estate – and lived in one of the Duchy’s houses.

This week, the independent inquiry – led by Professor Alexis Jay, is investigating how allegations against Ball were handled by the Church of England.

It has already heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time, Lord Carey.