Prince Charles has been slammed by a child abuse inquiry for mistakingly help protect sadistic pedophile Bishop Peter Ball.
The royal heir wrote letters of support to his friend, the ex Bishop of Gloucester, gave him numerous gifts of cash and bought a house for him to rent.
Peter Ball is suspected of preying on over 100 boys and young men in his 20-year reign of abuse.
Dailymail.co.uk reports: He made his young victims roll in the snow naked or stand in freezing showers before beating them with sticks and whips until they bled.
But when he finally faced investigation for abusing a teenage novice monk, a string of leading clerics, MPs, judges and public school headmasters wrote to prosecutors protesting his innocence and describing him as a ‘saint’.
The Church of England also knew of a string of other allegations against Ball, but instead of alerting the police ‘colluded and concealed’ the evidence. After being let off with a caution for gross indecency in 1993, for years he enjoyed the continued support of the great and the good.
This included his highest-ranked friend Prince Charles, who told the disgraced bishop he had been the victim of ‘monstrous wrongs’.
Born in 1932, Ball went to Lancing College public school in West Sussex and Cambridge University before establishing a monastery in Gloucestershire with his twin brother Michael.
He was made Bishop of Lewes in 1977 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992, where his diocese covered Charles’s country home Highgrove, and the prince was among the guests at his enthronement.
By now, the shameless social climber was one of the church’s best known characters, refusing to wear the ceremonial purple of a bishop in favour of simple, monastic robes, sleeping on the floor and taking vows of celibacy.
But eight months after the enthronement, Ball was arrested for horrifically abusing 16-year-old trainee monk Neil Todd. He had forced the vulnerable teenager to perform sex acts as they lay naked in bed together, take ice-cold, early-morning showers while reading the Bible and stand side by side naked reciting psalms in front of a figure of Christ.
As news of the investigation spread, Lambeth Palace received seven letters containing potentially disturbing information about him, including one from a man who told how, when he was 15, he had been asked by Ball to perform a sex act.
In another, a man said Ball had asked to share a bedroom with his 17-year-old son.
Lord Carey was briefed about the claims and replied personally to two of the tip-off letters. But only one, which was of least concern, was passed to the police.
Two Archbishops of Canterbury, Tory MPs – including David Cameron’s godfather – a senior judge and public school headmasters were also among the Establishment figures who rallied to protect Ball during the investigation.
In letters to police chiefs and the director of public prosecutions they complained that the allegations had caused the bishop ‘excruciating pain’ and claimed it was ‘literally inconceivable’ that he could have committed the offences’.
The correspondence remained secret for years until the Crown Prosecution Service finally released 12 of them after a freedom of information request from journalists.
They revealed how a few weeks after his arrest Tim Renton, now a peer, wrote to the then director of public prosecutions Barbara Mills to say it was the bishop who had ‘suffered terribly’.
Lord Carey, then Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote to the Gloucestershire chief constable in February 1993 describing ‘the excruciating pain and spiritual torment which these allegations have inevitably brought upon a man in his exposed position’.
James Woodhouse, the former headmaster of Rugby School, told police in 1993 that Ball’s ‘intention towards all people, young or old, is wholly that of Christian concern and compassion’.
Ball’s lawyers also claimed to police that they had a letter of support from the Royal Family, but the CPS said it had not seen the correspondence. After the widespread support, Ball escaped with a caution in 1993 for a single act of gross indecency against Mr Todd.
Lord Carey declared him ‘basically innocent’ and invited him to stay three times and paid for a holiday for him. He also gave the disgraced Bishop £12,500 of Church cash and, just three years after his caution, agreed that Ball should be permitted to preach at a public schools and conduct confirmations.
And the following year, he told bishops that they could allow Ball to carry out some religious services, but asked them to inform Lambeth Palace when he did because of concerns of ‘possible Press interest’.
The Church’s failures continued under Rowan Williams, who succeeded Lord Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Ball took delight at his continued role in the Church, but his most cherished friend was Charles, who continued to correspond with him even after his caution.
Charles told Ball he had been the victim of ‘monstrous wrongs’ and that he was desperate to help him, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse heard. The heir to the throne also told the bishop that he felt ‘desperately strongly’ about his treatment and said: ‘I wish I could do more’. And he suggested that perceptions surrounding the allegations were based on ‘lies, invention, speculation and sensation’.
According to his statement to the abuse inquiry last year, the Prince remained close friends with Ball for more than 20 years because he did not realise that the clergyman had admitted sexual abusing a teenager,
He accepted he kept in contact with Ball and even gave him ‘small gifts of money’ after the police caution in 1993. In his written statement to the inquiry the heir to the throne said he had been deceived by Ball, who claimed he was being persecuted by someone with a grudge.
Charles said: ‘I was certainly not aware at the time of the significance or impact of the caution.’
Ball also went on to live in a ‘specially acquired’ rented cottage on the Prince of Wales’s Duchy of Cornwall estate.
Clarence House has said it was the private estate which funds the heir to the throne, and not Charles himself that had purchased the lodge that Ball rented. Ball revelled in his self-declared status as confidant of the Prince of Wales and frequently made reference in his letters to his attending royal functions and to meeting members of the Royal Family. In 2006 Ball was invited to read the homily at the funeral of the father of Camilla Parker Bowles. He continued as a Church of England priest until 2010.
But justice was slowly catching up with him. Police reopened their investigation in 2012 after new allegations, and this time a flood of Ball’s victims came forward. Three years later Ball’s crimes were finally laid bare at the Old Bailey which heard shocking details of his reign of abuse.
He admitted abusing 18 teenagers and young men who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992. Ball was jailed for 32 months.
But it was too late for his first known victim, Mr Todd, who was so tormented that he took his own life aged 38 in 2012.
Ball, meanwhile, was released in February 2017 after serving half his sentence, and lives a free man back in Aller, Somerset.