DETAILS of a police investigation which led to a disgraced former bishop being let off with a caution have been revealed.

Peter Ball, who was bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992, was jailed in October last year for a string of historic offences.

Details have now been published of a 29 page report detailing the conclusions of two detectives who investigated Ball in 1992 when he was Bishop of Gloucester.

At the time he was given a caution for gross indecency.

The case eventually came to court last year when Ball, 83, was jailed for 32 months after he admitted misconduct in a public office and two counts of indecent assault between 1977 and 1992.

Ball was Bishop of Lewes between 1977 and 1992 and Bishop of Gloucester from 1992 to 1993.

The report, which was obtained by a national newspaper, revealed police were told Ball would resign and go abroad to work as a missionary in exchange for not being charged.

Although he did resign, he did not go abroad.

Despite the investigating officers being convinced of Ball’s guilt, the police said charging him would probably “have a devastating effect on the church” and a caution “would possibly minimise embarrassment to the church”, the report said.

During their investigation, according to the newspaper, detectives were advised there was growing concern for the mental state of the bishop and suicide was not something that could be ruled out.

The report was signed by Detective Inspector Wayne Murdock and Acting Detective Sergeant Andrew Wasley.

In it, they wrote of their conviction Ball was guilty, adding they believed he had been less than truthful and had hidden his sexual desires behind the role of religion.

The report also revealed that Murdock said charging Ball would “counter any possible suggestions of an Establishment cover-up” but also warned that to “charge and proceed will probably have a devastating effect on the church, which is already in turmoil.”

The Crown Prosecution Service eventually took the decision not to charge Ball.

The current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has announced an independent review of the church’s role in the case.