The Catholic Weekly 12 April 2020

LAW EXPERTS are calling for an investigation into the events that brought Cardi- nal George Pell to the High Court of Australia. Cardinal Pell was acquit- ted of all charges of histori- cal sexual abuse in a unan- imous decision by the High Court handed down on 7 April. Professor Michael McAu- ley, president of the St Thomas More Society who has practised as a barrister for more than 35 years, said it was hard to see how the High Court could have come to a different decision “with- out serious damage to its own reputation”. However, it raises “very serious questions” about the Victorian justice system, the conduct of the police and director of public prosecu- tions in the matter as well as the role of the media in influencing public opinion, he said. “The fact of the matter is that all of us have got an in- terest in the courts operating fairly even with unpopular defenders, and indeed the real test of the justice system is whether unpopular de- fenders can get justice.” Sydney lawyer Greg Walsh said that it was “remarkable” that the police decided to prosecute the matter and that many media organisa- tions failed to report on the limitations of the evidence. “The case raises many questions about the profes- sionalism of the Victorian police and serious consider- ation should be given to es- tablishing a government in- quiry into their handling of the matter,” Mr Walsh said. He also called for the ABC to be investigated for its cov- erage of the prosecution and appeals considering its legal obligations under its found- ing Act to be “accurate, im- partial and objective”. “The High Court’s unani- mous decision to acquit Car- dinal Pell will help in reme- dying the harm his unjust conviction has caused to the national and international reputation of Australia’s jus- tice system,” he said. “There is now an urgent need to establish inquiries into the Victorian police, the ABC and any other rele- vant organisations to assess whether they failed to act professionally in investi- gating and reporting on the allegations against Cardinal Pell.” Both lawyers said Victoria should introduce the pos- sibility of judge alone trials for criminal cases involving high profile and unpopular defendants to prevent sim- ilar miscarriages of justice occurring in the future. Former NSW Attorney General, Crown Prosecutor and Deputy Director of Pub- lic Prosecutions for NSW, Greg Smith, said that the whole process, in particular the reasoning of the major- ity in the Victorian Court of Appeal which upheld his December 2018 conviction, was “deficient”. “It was a very weak case and the Court of Appeal did not have proper regard to the Cardinal’s Counsel’s submissions,” he said. Vice president and chan- cellor of the Australian Catholic University and lawyer Greg Craven told the ABC in an at-times fiery in- terview (see separate story) that the Cardinal’s case “had reasonable doubt that was a mile wide”. CONTINUED PAGE 2 GEORGE WEIGEL P12 Questions Vic Police, ABC must answer Lawyersscathingaboutbroadcaster’srole, thestate’sPoliceandjustice’smissingfundamentals inVictoria ¾ ¾ Marilyn Rodrigues EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWWITH CARDINAL PELL P3 Vindicated: Cardinal Pell smiles as he sits with his daily prayer book in his hands at Good Shepherd Seminary on Thursday evening. He was found innocent of all charges of sexual molestation by Australia’s High Court on Tuesday. CLICK THROUGH TO OUR THE LASt 24 HOURS [This case] has reasona- ble doubt a mile wide. It shouldn’t have been prosecuted ... most lawyers thought once it got to the High Court that was the default setting.” Prof Greg Craven, ACU $2 12, April, 2020 “As Christians we believe suffering is not meaningless, never wasted,” Cardinal tells The Catholic Weekly