Police investigating complaints of sexual abuse in the Church of England have arrested a former bishop and ”loyal friend” of Prince Charles.
The Rt Rev Peter Ball, 80, was detained at his home on suspicion of abusing eight boys and men ranging in age from 12 to their early twenties.
The alleged incidents are thought to have taken place during the late 1980s and early 1990s at addresses in East Sussex and elsewhere.
Ball, the former Bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, was arrested following a “comprehensive” three-month investigation into the Chichester Diocese.
The intelligence contained “reviews of church files relating to certain child safeguarding issues within the Chichester diocese from between 20 and 25 years ago”.
They also reviewed internal church files containing details of clergymen’s careers in the diocese, including Ball’s.
Detective Chief Inspector Carwyn Hughes of Sussex Police, who is in charge of the investigation, said; “We make it clear that the force will always take seriously any allegations of historic sexual offending, and every possible step will be taken to investigate whenever appropriate.
“Allegations of historic offences are treated just as seriously as any more recent offences.”
Ball, of Langport, Somerset, resigned as Bishop in 1993, only two years after he was appointed.
He quit after receiving a police caution for committing an act of gross indecency against a trainee teenage monk.
Shortly afterwards he was given sanctuary by the Prince of Wales who personally invited him to live in Manor Lodge, in the village of Aller, Somerset, a Duchy of Cornwall property.
But it is thought after living in the property for more than a decade he moved to another house in the same village last year.
Ball, who has previously described the Prince as “a loyal friend”, is thought to be the most senior member of the Church of England to be arrested after investigations started.
Speaking at the time he was given the house, Ball said: “He [The Prince of Wales] has been wonderfully kind and allowed me to have a duchy house.
“The prince is a loyal friend. I have immense admiration for him, he has been through horrific times and is a great person.”
Sussex Police said another unnamed 67-year-old retired priest, was also detained at his home this morning near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, on suspicion of separate sex offences against two teenage boys in East Sussex between 1981 and 1983.
They added that: “There are no allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any young people are currently at risk.
“Police also stress that the allegations are being treated separately and do not involve the two men allegedly acting together.”
A Sussex Police spokesman said Bishop Ball, and the unnamed man were currently in custody pending interview and further inquiries.