By Odogwu Emeka Odogwu
The Prince of Wales and heir to the throne, Prince Charles, says he was unaware Peter Ball admitted guilt two decades earlier in 1993.
Prince Charles remained close friends with a disgraced bishop for more than 20 years because he did not realize that the clergyman had admitted sexually abusing a teenager, according to his statement to a public inquiry.
Prince Charles admits he kept in contact with Peter Ball and even gave him "small gifts of money" after the clergyman accepted a police caution for gross indecency in 1993.
He says he only became aware of the truth when the former Bishop of Gloucester was jailed for 32 months at the Old Bailey in 2015 for sexual offences against 18 young men.
In his written statement to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, reported by The Times, the prince said he had been deceived by Ball, who said he was being persecuted by someone with a grudge.
Prince Charles said: 'I was certainly not aware at the time of the significance or impact of the caution.
'I was not aware until recently that a caution in fact carries an acceptance of guilt.'
The inquiry is investigating whether prominent figures in the establishment attempted to interfere in the criminal justice process after Ball was accused of sexual offences.
It will hear from former Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, who was found to have delayed a "proper investigation" into Ball's crimes for two decades by failing to pass information to police.
Reverend Graham Sawyer, who was abused by Ball as a teenager and waived his right to anonymity, and retired judge, Lord Anthony Lloyd, of Berwick, a former member of the House of Lords, will also give evidence.
Prince Charles' written statement is due to be read out at the inquiry on the last day of evidence and he will not have to attend or be cross-examined on its contents.
The prince says he believed Ball's claims that he had been falsely accused because "in the 1980s and 1990s there was a presumption that people such as bishops could be taken at their word”.
He denies attempting to pressurize police officers investigating Ball in the 1990s or intervening to try and get the bishop restored to his ministry but admits discussing Ball with Lord Carey in 1994.
Prince Charles said in his statement: 'My heart goes out to the victims of abuse and I applaud their courage as they rebuild their lives. It remains a source of deep personal regret that I was one of many who were deceived over a long period of time about the true nature of Ball's activities.'