Damning Report Confirms Church Colluded With Convicted Paedophile Bishop Peter Ball

A new report written by Dame Moira Gibb accuses the Church of England of concealing evidence of child sexual abuse at the hands of its clergy and colluding with convicted paedophile, Bishop Peter Ball.

Ball, who was the former bishop of Gloucester and Lewes, was jailed in October 2015 for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 vulnerable young men aged 17-25 who came to him for guidance and support. He was released from prison in February after serving just 16 months.

Gibb also criticises ex-Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey in her report, whom she cites as being largely responsible for the inexcusable way in which allegations were swept under the carpet. When complaints were first made about Bishop Ball, Ball went straight to the Church and other senior figures within the clergy and the Royal Family to seek out support and protection, including the then Archbishop, Lord Carey who obliged by writing a letter of support which was sent to the police and the CPS. (You can read the letters from Carey and others here).

Carey has now been asked to step down from his position as an honorary assistant bishop by the current archbishop, Justin Welby.

In her report, “Abuse Of Faith”, Dame Moira Gibb says the Church “displayed little care” for Bishop Ball’s victims,”  and that its “failure to safeguard so many boys and young men still casts a long shadow”.

Crucially, the report also confirms that Bishop Ball had suggested “on many occasions, to Lord Carey and others, that he enjoys the status of confidant of the Prince of Wales” and “sought to exploit his contact with members of the royal family in order to bolster his position”.

Those of you following this blog will be familiar with Bishop Peter Ball and brothers, Phil and Gary Johnson who have campaigned tirelessly to bring Ball, and the Church, to justice. An exchange between Phil and Baroness Butler-Sloss, disgraced former Chair of the Child Abuse Inquiry, which we wrote about two years ago, highlights the extent of the collusion, with high profile believers desperate to preserve the Church’s standing. In the recording we shared, you can hear Butler-Sloss’s attempts at defending the Church and minimising allegations of abuse at the same time.

Phil Johnson spoke to the BBC in 2016 about Lord Carey’s involvement in the cover up of allegations against Bishop Ball, highlighting that the Church had deliberately hidden police evidence on the matter.

Things came to a head in August of last year, when it was confirmed that Bishop Ball had been granted Core Participant Status at the Child Abuse Inquiry, leaving his victims and survivors feeling re-traumatised at the possibility of being cross examined by him.

Phil also wrote a statement in September 2016 criticising the CPS’s decision to reduce Ball’s sentence.

Dame Moira Gibb’s report will be a welcome development for survivors and victims and we hope that it will bring about a change in the culture at the Church of England and lead to better safeguarding measures being put into place.

For a full list of articles on Bishop Peter Ball, please take a look at our site.

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Former Minister Calls On Social Workers To Boost Mobility, Completely Unaware Of The Pitfalls

A former Labour Minister has called on social workers to play a much bigger part in boosting the life chances of children and families they work with, in a speech delivered recently at a social work training event.

The speech Alan Milburn makes highlights how little he understands the social work sector and the enormous pressure it is under, and the economic landscape that is currently suffocating working families. That Alan is also chair of the social mobility commission throws into sharp relief just how serious this is.

During the event Alan makes some key points. He says the profession is one of the biggest “under leveraged assets” when it comes to supporting children and families. Whilst the sector is suffering from budget cuts and a dwindling lack of resources, it has also had its fair share of funding which it squandered through poor management, well meaning but ultimately toxic financial incentives and the kind of breath taking incompetence that has resulted in serious case review after serious case review. The social work sector is not an under leveraged asset, it is a barren one which needs to be rebuilt with better training programmes, a solid infrastructure rolled out nationwide and a central mandate that demands only the highest standards from its professionals. All of this has to happen before we can even think about giving the child protection sector greater powers to support parents in need of help.

Alan also told social workers that they have a part to play in “trying to nudge and encourage and support parents to do the basics of parenting. To foster their kids’ abilities, to read to them, to provide some basic opportunities.”

Milburn places the inequalities children from vulnerable and low income families face squarely on the shoulders of their parents. This is a basic mistake which you wouldn’t expect a politician or chair of a mobility committee to make. It’s already widely established that parents who fit into these demographics are usually under enormous strain themselves, and have no time to read to their children for example, often working two or more jobs and worrying first about the basics like feeding their families. This is a point Milburn touches on but he seems blithely unaware that a lack of food in the home isn’t borne out of parents’ laziness to feed their children but an inability to make ends meet thanks to austerity cuts, and politicians more interested in sound bites and scamming votes.

Social workers should not be fooled by this thinly veiled attempt to get them on side. The profession can be a force for good, but it will have to do this through internal reflection and not be lulled into a false sense of security by schmoozing former cabinet ministers whose main interest in the social work sector and its professionals is purely political.

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Law Ending Child Marriage In New York Comes Into Effect

A bill raising the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 17 in New York has been signed into law by Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo.

Human Rights Watch campaigned vigorously for the move,  resulting in a law being passed in New York State today, which bans all marriage of children under the age of 17, and allows 17 year olds to marry only with permission from a judge.

Website Unchained At Last offers the following stats on child marriage in the state:

“3,853 children were married in New York between 2000 and 2010, many with significant age differences. In 2011 alone, a 14-year-old married a 26-year-old in New York, and a 15-year-old married someone age “35 to 39.” A 15-year-old was wed to a 28-year-old. Another 15-year-old was wed to a 25-year-old. All those marriages required approval from New York judges.”

Whilst there is some debate over whether laws raising the age of consent for marriage will protect all vulnerable children being forced into unions against their will, largely because a significant portion of child marriages around the world happen informally and go undetected as a result, the new law will act as a deterrent and provide much needed protection against adults seeking to marry vulnerable minors, often in order to traffick them.

The legislation is a wonderful start to tackling child marriage in the state. The next step for New York will be to reach out to those communities still sanctioning child marriage and engage with them, so that a dialogue around the practice can begin and new ways of nurturing children within those communities are developed.

Human Rights Watch has published an excellent summary on the day’s events, which you can read here. Many congratulations to HRW and other organisations who fought tirelessly for this new law.

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European Court Orders Charlie Gard’s Life Support To Continue, Despite Legal Challenge

Charlie Gard’s life support must continue for at least another three weeks, so that the European Court Of Human Rights (ECHR) can come to a decision about whether or not Charlie will undergo pioneering treatment in America.

The Supreme Court has, reluctantly, extended the deadline, allowing Charlie to remain on life support until midnight on 10/11 July.  (Para 20 – and thank you to John Bolch over at Family Lore for drawing our attention to this document).

The decision sits awkwardly with a legal challenge which has been mounted by Great Ormond Street, the hospital overseeing Charlie’s care. Great Ormond Street’s lawyers are arguing that the ECHR has no authority to request or order an extension of Charlie’s life support pending their decision to hear the case. The ECHR have countered this claim by pointing to their regulations which allow for such an order to be made where removal of treatment during the Court’s deliberation would lead to a “real risk of irreversible harm.”

This is an incredibly difficult situation, where medical opinions about the chances of success and survival are based on highly subjective evidence. You can watch the Supreme Court had down its decision, below. Meanwhile, Great Ormond Street has also released an FAQ on the case.



Question It!

Welcome to the week.

As another survivors’ group leaves the nation’s Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual abuse (IICSA) amid allegations that it is not fit for purpose and has marginalised the very people it was set up to listen to, the future of the Inquiry has again been thrown into question.

The Survivors of Organised and Institutional Abuse (SOIA) have withdrawn from the child abuse inquiry, claiming that it has been going downhill for some time and has consistently ignored survivors and victims assisting their investigations. The group said this:

“It is with deep regret that Soia announces its withdrawal from the inquiry… We emphasise that each of us will continue to vigorously campaign outside of the IICSA, for the rights of survivors of organised and institutional abuse to justice and healing… We wish to thank all those who have contributed time, effort and their own money to WhiteFlowers and Soia.

However, we believe that, despite our efforts, IICSA remains not fit for purpose…. Indeed it has descended into a very costly academic report writing and literature review exercise with survivors totally marginalised from effective participation in the research process.”

The group had four core participants sitting at the inquiry, who have now left, however they represented a much larger group of hundreds under its own SOIA umbrella.

We have received correspondence from one SOIA member who disagreed with the decision to step down from the Inquiry, indicating that feelings about the IICSA amongst survivors are mixed.

Our question this week then, is this: do you agree that the Inquiry is going backwards, or is its work still important in forming a complete picture of abuse in Britain and beyond?


Impromptu Thank You

Researching Reform usually thanks its readers and posters in the New Year with the release of WordPress’ Blog Report, which celebrates a site’s audience with fun stats and charts, however this feature has now been shelved and so we never got the chance to show our gratitude.

It’s been on our minds for a while to do this, so we’d like to do this now.

As the years have passed, we’ve welcomed more of you to the site. We are incredibly privileged to have a diverse readership which includes families, young men and women, charities, social workers, lawyers, judges, peers and politicians.

We are humbled by those readers who have chosen to remain with us, and we would like to thank you for your enduring loyalty. You are family.

New visitors come to our site every day. Some subscribe, others dip into our stories and features. We value and appreciate every encounter.

Our genuine thanks for reading, commenting, sharing and exploring with us. We strive to be thought provoking, helpful, refreshing. Whatever you are looking for, we hope you find it here. If you don’t, we are always open to suggestions.


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The Buzz

The latest news items that should be right on your radar:


Trace An Object To Stop Child Abuse

We came across an incredible project online, and so we had to share it.

Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, which works with member states to tackle serious international crime and terrorism, has launched a new initiative to help stop child sexual abuse online.

“Trace An Object” asks members of the public to help Europol identify the origins of specific items found in sexually explicit material involving minors. The idea is that these objects are potentially specific to one location or country and so Europol are appealing for eyes to look at these images and see if they can help to work out where these objects come from.

The project was launched just a week ago and it has already received over 10,000 contributions from the general public.

If you’d like to see whether you can identify any of the objects you can take a look at them on Europol’s dedicated page, which has been updated recently, so do check back from time to time. Submissions can also be made anonymously.

We think this is a wonderful project. More and more of us are online and using the internet for good, so getting people from around the world involved in making the internet a safer place is a natural progression for web users, and an excellent use of our time.

We wish Europol lots of success.

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