Prince Charles has told a British inquiry investigating child abuse that he was was deceived by a disgraced Church of England bishop jailed for sex abuse.
The Prince of Wales’s remarks came amid an investigation into the handling of allegations against former bishop Peter Ball, who had claimed to be a confidant of the heir to the throne.
The 86-year-old Ball had accepted a caution for one count of gross indecency in 1993, but later admitted further crimes. He is currently in jail for sexually abusing 18 young men over 30 years.
Prince Charles, who exchanged numerous letters with Ball and described the bishop’s accuser as “a ghastly man” in one of them, told the inquiry said he did not realise the truth until it came out in court.
In the letter read to the inquiry and published by the BBC, the Prince said:
“I first became aware of Peter Ball during the 1980s … He was later appointed Bishop of Gloucester when he became my local diocesan bishop.
“Peter Ball told me he had been involved in some sort of ‘indiscretion’ which prompted his resignation as my local bishop.
“He emphasised that one individual that I now understand to be Mr Neil Todd has made a complaint to the police, that the police had investigated the matter, and the Crown Prosecution Service had decided to take action.
“That sequence of events seemed to support Mr Ball’s claim that the complaint emanated from one individual and that individual bore a grudge against him and was persecuting him, that the complaint was false, but the individual has nonetheless profited from the complaint by selling his story.
“Events later demonstrated beyond any doubt, to my deep regret, that I, along with many others, had been misled.”
Prince Charles dismissed any suggestions he had ever tried to interfere in the police investigation, although he acknowledged it was possible his name had been taken “in vain” by others.
The prince said in the 1980s and 1990s there was “a presumption that people such as Bishops could be taken at their word and, as a result of the high office they held, were worthy of trust and confidence”.
He said: “Throughout my life my position has occasionally brought me into contact with prominent people who have subsequently been accused of serious wrong doing.
“Rather than rushing to private judgement I have always taken the view that the judicial process should take its course.”
-with AP and ABC