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Ministers and royal family member 'supported sex abuse bishop'

A high-profile former bishop has been jailed for 32 months for a string of sexual offences against young men.

Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes, said he was "very, very sorry" as he walked into the Old Bailey to be sentenced for the offences between 1977 and 1992.

It emerged in court that cabinet ministers and a member of the royal family sent letters of support for Peter Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes, after he received a caution for indecent assault in 1993.

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Ball 'used religion as cloak to hide sex crimes'

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

The former Bishop of Lewes used his position to "identify, groom and exploit sensitive young men", the Old Bailey heard.

Peter Ball, 83, looked frail as he appeared in the dock for sentencing for a string of sex offences against young men, many aspiring priests, between 1977 and 1992.

The prosecution said that for Ball, religion "was a cloak behind which he hid in order to satisfy his sexual interest in those who trusted him".

ITV News correspondent Rebecca Barry is at the Old Bailey:

Last month, he admitted misusing his position in authority to "manipulate" 16 men for his own sexual gratification and indecently assaulting two men in their late teens between 1980 and 1983 and between 1990 and 1991.

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