Lord Carey, who was Archbishop of Canterbury between 1991 and 2002, oversaw Ball’s return to ministry and the payment of thousands of pounds to the bishop, including money for holidays, which came from his own discretionary funds, used to support church leaders in need. He claimed he had been manipulated by Ball, describing him as a “consummate actor” who may have faked illness to gain more sympathy, and said the Church had not regarded his crimes as serious enough at the time. “All of us were saying at the time – ‘well he wasn’t raping anyone, it wasn’t penetrative sex'”, he said. However, he also said his own aides had “missed the point” in a 2000 memo which set out Ball’s guilt. “They should have recognised that Peter Ball has also lost a great deal – he’s lost everything, in fact, and to this day a man of such gifts will alway be remembered in the Church as a man who failed and who destroyed others,” he said. The inquiry also heard that Ball was given the role as Bishop of Gloucester in 1992 after then-appointments secretary to the Prime Minister Sir Robin Catford wrote a glowing letter recommending him, including mentioning that he was a “squash blue” at Cambridge and that he had a “quite extraordinary sparkling personality” and was “loved and revered by everyone who crossed his path”. Lord Carey, who told the hearing that the Church’s panel had favoured Ball’s rival for the job, described the letter as “quite appalling”.”The secretary was influencing the mind of the prime minister and going beyond his responsibilities,” he said. All of us were saying at the time – ‘well he wasn’t raping anyone, it wasn’t penetrative sex’Lord Carey A former Archbishop of Canterbury has admitted “fobbing off” victims of sex abuse who complained about a paedophile bishop. Lord Carey of Clifton said Lambeth Palace failed to deal properly with letters sent by victims and their families after the arrest of Peter Ball in December 1992. Ball, then the bishop of Gloucester, was arrested following disclosures by Neil Todd, who had been a pupil on his scheme for young men considering a monastic life, that Ball had sexually abused him. Young men and their parents told the Archbishop’s office that Ball had behaved inappropriately, including asking a 17-year-old schoolboy to masturbate in front of him during a counselling session at a boarding school, and asking another 17-year-old to share his bedroom. In an extraordinary day at the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Lord Carey was by turn contrite, apologising to Ball’s victims and admitting that he had not dealt with the case properly, and defiant, arguing repeatedly that it was not the church’s role to investigate his crimes. Asked by Fiona Scolding, the lead counsel to the investigation into the Anglican church, why he did not disclose the letters to the police, he said: “No-one came to see me and said ‘hand the letters over’.” Following his arrest Ball received a caution and resigned from his role but over the next five years was allowed to return to influence in the Church, eventually performing 25 confirmations and gaining the same status as a retired bishop. He was convicted and jailed in 2015 for misconduct in public office after admitting abusing 18 young men. Neil Todd killed himself in 2012. Lord Carey also admitted that the church had “mishandled” the case, after the inquiry heard evidence that many of the letters had received holding responses and victims had been forced to follow up to gain a proper reply. “We have been fobbing people off. They should have had direct replies. We should have carried on our enquiries and dealt with it in a much more serious and adult manner than we did,” he admitted. The inquiry also heard that a “personal message” from the former Archbishop had been sent to the diocese of Gloucester in January 1993, several weeks after the allegations had been received, expressing a hope that the ongoing police enquiry would “clear his [Ball’s] name”.He also wrote to the chief constable of Gloucestershire and the director of public prosecutions in 1993 on Ball’s behalf after the bishop’s psychiatrist told him that he was suicidal, and wrote to Ball himself telling him “you are in my prayers”. He added: “At the time we assumed the police were investigating this thoroughly, and interviewing people. There was no awareness at the time that one had to pass these letters on, that one might have assumed today.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.