Detectives and prosecutors are considering an investigation into allegations that former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey was involved in covering up sexual abuse within the Church of England.
Lord Carey, Archbishop from 1991 to 2002, is reported to have failed to pass on six letters containing details of sexual abuse to the authorities.
The letters discussed the behaviour of former Bishop of Lewes Peter Ball, who was convicted of sex offences against young men three years ago.
A report published last summer by Dame Moira Gibb found that the church had “colluded” with Ball and was critical of Lord Carey for not passing the letters on while he was Archbishop of Canterbury in 1992.
Dame Moira also discovered that the 82-year-old had not added Ball’s name to a list of people deemed unsuitable for ministry. Her report found that he had also helped reinstate Ball in the Church.
Lawyers from the Crown Prosecution Service and the Met Police are now studying the Gibb report to examine whether anything contained within it could lead to criminal charges being brought against Lord Carey.
A Met Police spokesman said: “The matters under consideration are complex, and advice is currently being sought from CPS to understand whether anything contained within the report suggests criminal offences have been committed.
“This does not equate to a criminal investigation being underway.”
David Greenwood, a solicitor who has acted for some of Ball’s victims, is accusing the authorities of procrastinating.
He said: “What’s taking the CPS so long? It’s a 70-page report which was published nine months ago.
“Those who’ve been affected by Peter Ball want a clear investigation – especially as to whether it’s true that Peter Ball was protected by friends in high places.”
The news comes as the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse today (Monday) begins a three-week examination into allegations of sex abuse inside the Church of England.
Archbishop Justin Welby and his predecessor Dr Rowan Williams are both expected to give evidence.
The CPS has admitted it should have launched a prosecution against Ball when he was initially cautioned over the allegations in 1993.
He was jailed in October 2015 for sexually abusing 18 young men aged from 17 to 25 between 1977 and 1992.
His trial heard that establishment figures including Lord Carey, cabinet minister and even a member of the Royal Family defended Ball when the allegations against him surfaced in 1992.
One of his victims, Neil Todd, killed himself in 2002.
In 2015 Archbishop Welby commissioned an inquiry into abuse within the Church and asked Lord Carey to stand down as an honorary bishop.
The Church and Lord Carey have refused to comment on the latest developments.