Pervert ex-bishop deceived me, Prince Charles tells sex abuse inquiry
The Prince of Wales has told a child abuse inquiry he could not "shed any light" on who he was referring to in a letter to disgraced bishop Peter Ball when he wrote: "I will see off this horrid man if he tries anything again."
Ball had told the prince a single accuser was behind allegations which led to him having to quit as Bishop of Gloucester.
In a letter to the inquiry, Charles said Ball had told him the complaint against him was false and had arisen from someone who had a grudge against him and was "persecuting" him.
In extracts from one correspondence between the prince and the former clergyman, Charles said: "I can't bear it that the frightful and terrifying man is on the loose and doing his worst."
But in his letter to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) yesterday, the royal, who said he regrets having been "deceived" by the former bishop, said: "I regret that I am unable to shed any light on references made in a letter dated 23rd March 1997 to a 'horrid man' or a 'frightful and terrifying man'.
"This seems to be a manner of speaking in the midst of a long letter written more than 20 years ago. I do recall that Peter Ball felt that numerous individuals, including his critics in the media, were doing all in their power to disadvantage him unfairly. I suspect, but cannot be certain, that the reference is to this issue in some way." Charles maintained a friendship with Ball for over 20 years after the ex-cleric accepted a caution for gross indecency, only stopping contact when he was convicted in 2015 of sexually abusing 18 young men over 30 years.
The prince said he did not know about the nature of the complaint against Ball and had not appreciated the meaning of a caution.
A lawyer for some of the former bishop's victims said it was difficult to see that "as anything other than wilful blindness".
In another letter to Ball in 1995 - two years after Ball's caution - Charles said he wished he could "do more".
The prince did not attend the hearing and yesterday toured a stealth combat aircraft on his visit to the Dambusters squadron at Royal Air Force Marham in Norfolk.