Pell decision angers survivors & Hollingworth’s flawed response

Child abuse survivors were enraged this month by Justice Peter McClellan’s decision to allow Cardinal George Pell to give evidence to the Royal Commission via video link.

Pell’s $20,000-a-day lawyer had argued vigorously that his client should be excused from travelling from Rome – where he heads the Vatican’s finance ministry — to appear before the Child Abuse Royal Commission.

A medical report provided to the Commission, but not available publicly, claimed that Pell’s life would be at risk if he were to attempt a long-haul flight. The decision raised several issues, including Pell’s indefinite exclusion from Australia. If Pell were to return to Australia, he may face Federal contempt charges.

Cardinal George Pell

Source: www.abc.net.au

The decision raised several issues, including Pell’s indefinite exclusion from Australia. If Pell were to return to Australia, he may face Federal contempt charges. The Royal Commission does have the option of holding a hearing in Rome – and sending Pell the bill – but this possibility has not been raised in the Commission.

A WA doctor offered to assemble a voluntary medical retrieval team to accompany Pell on his flight back to Australia to face the Commission. In a letter published in Fairfax Media newspapers, Dr Richard Sallie said he would also happily pay for Pell’s first-class airfare. “It seems to me if he’s able to carry out his job as senior financial controller of the Catholic Church then he’s probably fit enough to travel,” Dr Sallie told Fairfax.

The decision raised several issues, including Pell’s indefinite exclusion from Australia. If Pell were to return to Australia, he may face Federal contempt charges.

The Royal Commission does have the option of holding a hearing in Rome – and sending Pell the bill – but this possibility has not been raised in the Commission. A WA doctor offered to assemble a voluntary medical retrieval team to accompany Pell on his flight back to Australia to face the Commission. In a letter published in Fairfax Media newspapers, Dr Richard Sallie said he would also happily pay for Pell’s first-class airfare.

Also to give evidence to the Commission via video link will be former Ballarat bishop, Ronald Mulkearns. Mulkearns, who has terminal cancer and requires full-time care in a nursing home, will be required to give evidence later this month.

Mulkearns was central to the relocation of several paedophile priests over 30 years, including Australia’s most notorious paedophile, Gerard Ridsdale.

Hollingworth’s admits flawed response 

Earlier this month in the Royal Commission, former Australian Governor-General, Dr Peter Hollingworth admitted that in 1993, he was more concerned with the welfare of a paedophile priest than that of a young victim. The male victim was abused by John Elliot in the 1980s. Despite Elliot admitting the abuse to Hollingworth, who was then Archbishop of the Diocese of Brisbane, the priest remained in his role until his retirement in 1996. Elliot has since been jailed for offences against seven boys.

Brisbane Grammar School has decided not to refund the tuition fees of students who were sexually abused by school counsellor Kevin Lynch in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite the Brisbane Anglican Diocese telling the Royal Commission that the fees would be refunded, the School’s Board decided against this initiative.

From next month, the Royal Commission will set its sights on the creative arts sector as it investigates the behaviour of dance teacher Grant Davies, and dance instructor and pianist, Viktor Makarov.

About Peter Kelso


I am a solicitor of the Supreme Court of New South Wales. I have been admitted to practice since 1984. I am the principal and founder of Kelso Lawyers which has operated in Newcastle since 1986.

I have been an advocate for compensation for victims of abuse since the commencement of the Victims Compensation Tribunal in New South Wales in 1988. I conduct the largest victims practice in New South Wales. I have a high level of engagement with numerous NGOs such as woman’s refuges, sexual assault services, community organisations and healing centres.

On 31 October 2012 I was a finalist for the Justice Medal, presented by the Law and Justice Foundation of New South Wales.


My Google Profile+