A statement from the Diocese of Peterborough
On the 13th and 14th January 2020, the BBC broadcast Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret, which looked at the sexual abuse carried out by the former Bishop of Gloucester, Bishop Peter Ball, and the attempts to bring him to justice. It also revealed failures by the Church of England to properly handle past allegations and concerns about abuse. Hearing the survivors’ accounts of their abuse and how their disclosures were dealt with was harrowing. It is a matter of great shame that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball, and that survivors were left to fight for justice. The fact that one of the accusers, Neil Todd, ended his life is truly awful and our thoughts are with Neil’s family, as well as all other survivors and their families.
We would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that we take safeguarding seriously in the Diocese of Peterborough. Our Diocesan Safeguarding Advisory Team, Bev Huff and Samantha Jackson, have previously worked as detectives in the police, and have vast experience in safeguarding matters. They are here to listen, hear, support and to refer matters to the police and appropriate local authorities, who we have excellent working arrangements with. We are also aware of the courage and bravery it takes for survivors to come forward, knowing that the effects of their abuse are with them for life.
If anybody was affected by this programme, please contact the Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 01733 887040 or 01733 887041. They can also be emailed via firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
We recognise that this option may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse from within the Church. A dedicated telephone helpline, operating independently from the Church, has therefore been set up. The number is 0800 80 20 20 and is being run by the NSPCC Helpline for Children and Adults.
The following statement is from Bishop Peter Hancock, Lead Safeguarding Bishop for the Church of England:
The powerful BBC documentary Exposed: The Church’s Darkest Secret is a stark and important reminder of the serious sexual wrongdoing of Peter Ball against many young men, including Neil Todd who took his own life, and the complete failure of the Church to respond appropriately over a period of many years.
Both the Gibb Report, An Abuse of Faith – commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury – and the 2018 IICSA hearing into the case, highlighted our failings and the bravery of those who were prepared to speak out. The documentary brings home in a graphic way the courage of the survivors who shared their story.
It is a matter of great shame and regret that the Church did not act to address the behaviour of Peter Ball at the time, and that survivors were left to fight tirelessly for justice.
I know from my meetings with victims and survivors that the effects of abuse are lifelong, and we must never forget this. We recognise that there are survivors who have never spoken out and who may still want to come forward; we would urge them to do so.
There is much that is being written and said about accountability and the culture of deference in the Church, and it is clear that change has been too slow. We are committed to making these changes and ensuring that the Church is a safe and welcoming place for everyone.
I once again offer all survivors a wholehearted apology and applaud their bravery in coming forward, which continues to hold us to account.
Anyone affected should please contact Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org at the National Safeguarding Team.