THE judge leading a national enquiry into child sexual abuse has said the activities of the former Bishop of Lewes will be the subject of a special investigation.

Historic sex offences in the Diocese of Chichester, including Peter Ball’s, will be examined as a case study by Lady Justice Goddard’s inquiry, which also promised to look into any influence “people of prominence” brought to bear in his case.

Nine churchmen from the diocese have been found guilty of historic offences, or have been named as child abusers by the church, in the course of the last two years.

David Greenwood, a solicitor who represented some of Ball’s victims, said: “It’s right to focus on Chichester because things have gone wrong on a number of levels.”

Ball was jailed in October for taking sexual advantage of young men who came to him for guidance in the 1970s and 80s..

While Bishop of Lewes in the 1980s he convinced young men taking part in the “Give a Year for Christ” scheme to pray naked at his altar and submit to beatings, for the sake of his sexual gratification.

The Goddard Inquiry was established in the aftermath of the Jimmy Saville outrage and is expected to take at least five years to complete its remit of “investigating the extent to which institutions have failed to protect children from sexual abuse.”

Yesterday it released its initial list of twelve broad areas for examination, which included: allegations of child abuse linked to Westminster; the internet and child sexual abuse, children in the care of Lambeth Council, and child sexual abuse in the Catholic and Anglican churches.

Within the investigation of the Church of England, the inquiry will “investigate whether there were inappropriate attempts by people of prominence to interfere in the criminal justice process after he [Ball] was first accused of child sexual offences.”

This is understood to be a reference to correspondence between then Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord George Carey, and the Crown Prosecution Service, when Ball was handed a caution rather than being prosecuted when his crimes first surfaced in 1992.

At the time of the trial, Lord Carey was forced to deny that his involvement in the case in the 1990s amounted to a “cover-up”, saying “Allegations by some that my actions amounted to a cover-up or collusion with the abuser, are wrong.”

Yesterday the diocese of Chichester said: ‘We note today's developments and will cooperate fully with the process.’