A review has been commissioned by the Church of England to report on what the church knew about decades of sex abuse carried out by Peter Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester.

The review will report to the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby. It is tasked with examining what information was in the church’s possession concerning Ball and whether the church’s response complied with the law. The aim is to enable the church to learn from its errors.

Ball was sentenced last year to 32 months in prison for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 young men between 1977 and 1992. At his Old Bailey trial it emerged that a number of senior establishment figures had written letters in support of Ball. And among letters released as a result of a Freedom of Information request was one from former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, referring to Ball’s “excruciating pain and spiritual torment” over the abuse allegations.

The review is to be led by Moira Gibb, a former director of social services in London. She will have access to papers held by the church, and will invite Ball's victims to testify.

The church has previously been criticised for attempting to sweep the Ball scandal under the carpet and showing little or no concern for the vulnerable young men who suffered horrifying and systematic abuse at Ball's hands.

The current archbishop of Canterbury has now offered an unreserved apology to all survivors of Ball's abuse and has commended the bravery of those who pursued allegations. He described Ball's actions as “a matter of deep shame and regret", acknowledging that there were no excuses whatsoever for the church's failings.

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