Charlie Windsor has refused to make a formal witness statement to an inquiry into sexual abuse by one of his friends. The statement would have included what lawyers called “a formal statement of truth” like swearing an oath.
The enquiry is into a former Anglican bishop Peter Ball. Ball has admitted abusing 18 teenagers and young men.
Windsor was a friend of the former bishop and exchanged letters with him. Windsor’s mother is the head of the church Ball worked for and he will head that church when she dies.
Enquiry lawyers sent Windsor a template for his statement. But lawyers for Windsor challenged on human right grounds the need for Windsor to make a witness statement in the form requested by the enquiry. They also claimed that the enquiry did not have the power to compel him to give evidence.
Windsor’s lawyers said that the request for a formal statement was “unfair” and would require disclosure of “intensely private and confidential” data.
In the end the enquiry lawyers accepted a letter from Windsor as equivalent to a statement. However, a lawyer for the victims of Ball’s abused said that “This will feed concerns that the letter is less than entirely frank about his relationship with” the Anglican bishop. The lawyer suggested that Windsor’s letter might include “matters to which he is reluctant to attach a formal statement of truth”.
The lawyer also said that Windsor’s refusal to make a formal statement will “raise concerns that the letter may be less than entirely frank about his relationship with Peter Ball”.
It is unlikely that an honest citizen would have been allowed to refuse to make a formal statement.
Another former bishop in Windsor’s church, George Carey, was found by an enquiry last year to have colluded with Ball.