Category Archives: Media

George Pell – the person

Nobody in Australia has been more vilified publicly than Cardinal George Pell. Even worse, most of the vilification has come through or aided by great Australian companies or organizations at the head of which has been, and still is, the billion-dollar government funded ABC (The Australian Broadcasting Corporation). The extent of the slander and abuse has baffled overseas people of standing, in the Church and academia, who know the Cardinal or have had dealings with him.

Of course, there are many people in Australia who have high regard for the Cardinal, but they are not often heard from. Others are reluctant to speak publicly because they know the same people who have destroyed the Cardinal will do their best to destroy them. Journalist Tess Livingstone is an exception. She has written two favourable books about Cardinal Pell and a number of articles. Below is one of those articles.

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CARDINAL GEORGE PELL

By Tess Livingstone

WHEN HE PRAYS his daily Office — the psalms, scripture and prayers Catholic priests read every day from the Roman breviary — George Pell offers part of it for his accusers, including the man whose testimony was accepted by a jury in December, landing the cardinal into an isolation cell in a Melbourne jail.

Continue reading George Pell – the person

The adolescent logic of the majority judgement

In the Australian of 15 November, former Labor Minister Peter Baldwin focused on the weird reasoning of the majority judgement in the Pell appeal.

George Pell sex abuse conviction must be examined

by PETER BALDWIN

I have never been a huge fan of ­George Pell, sharing neither his relig­ious convictions nor his conservati­ve world view.

However, I was relieved by the decision of the High Court this week to hear his final appeal.

This follows the decision in August by a majority of the Victorian Court of Appeal to uphold the jury verdict convicting Pell of criminal sexual abuse.

I was surprised and disconcerted, astonished actually, by this outcome, so much so I ploughed through all 325 pages of the majority judgment by justices Anne Ferguson and Chris Maxwell and the longer dissenting judgment by Justice Mark Weinberg in an effort to understand where their reasonings diverged.

There were aspects of the matter that surprised me at the outset.

Continue reading The adolescent logic of the majority judgement

A BLIGHT ON THE WHOLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

Many powerful compelling pieces have been written attacking and deploring Cardinal Pell’s conviction for the sexual abuse of two minors. Noteworthy are Keith Windschuttle’s and Andrew Bolt’s demonstration that the alleged abuse was impossible given the complainant’s timeline. In his article below, retired lawyer Anthony Charles Smith raises frightening questions about Australia’s legal system and the competence of those on the bench. Like many others, he points out that the Pell conviction shows nobody is safe in Australia at the moment. The article appeared in the September issue of Annals Australasia.

A BLIGHT ON THE WHOLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

By Anthony Charles Smith

I am not a Roman Catholic and don’t write this from any religious perspective but rather these days as a retired barrister very troubled by the charging and conviction of George Pell.

I spent nearly thirty years of my working life at the Bar to 2013, a substantial quantity of that practice was as a defence barrister. I have read the particulars of the allegations against the accused Cardinal George Pell and the circumstances in which they were made. I have also read Frank Brennan’s analysis of the evidence presented at the trial. I have read opinions on the trial such as that of the left-wing barrister Greg Barns and the author John Silvester in “The Age”. I have read the relevant portions of the Court of Appeal’s majority judgment and the dissenting judgment. I have also read Paul Kelly’s lengthy article in the “Weekend Australian” following the decision of the Court of Appeal.

In the 1980s and early 90s, I say without the slightest hesitation that these allegations would have been given short shrift by competent, experienced Crown Prosecutors. They lack any corroboration, are fanciful beyond rational belief and contain within them internal inconsistencies of an irreconcilable nature as to time, opportunity, practicality, place and circumstance.

Continue reading A BLIGHT ON THE WHOLE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

The media reacts to High Court decision

Today the High Court of Australia announced it would hear Cardinal Pell’s application to appeal his conviction. This was a relief to those convinced of the Cardinal’s innocence and who had found the legal processes so far a total farce, threatening to perpetrate the greatest miscarriage of justice Australia has seen and make Australia’s judicial system seem the dickie thing of a tinpot dictatorship.

Those media members of the Pell lynch mob were off the mark within seconds (I checked). It was the usual thing about the ‘disgraced’ or ‘paedophile’ Cardinal with the repetition of the charges for which Cardinal Pell was convicted, but no mention that the conviction was on the uncorroborated evidence of the faceless complainant while 20 witnesses said the charges were impossible. Nor was it mentioned that legal people around the world at the very least wonder about the integrity of Australia’s legal system.

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Summary of the Pell Papers

Chris S Friel working from the other side of the world has done outstanding work on the Cardinal Pell Affair. He has produced a series of sharp compelling analyses of all the important features of Cardinal’s conviction for sexual abuse of a minor. Friel’s work will be in the frontline of any research serious investigators undertake in scrutinising of one of the most shocking sets of circumstances in Australia’s history.

On the eve of The High Court of Australia’s decision about allowing an appeal, Friel has posted an extremely useful summary of the work he has done. One can access it on the Academia website. I have produced it below.

SUMMARY OF THE PELL PAPERS

by Chris S Friel

This is a brief summary of the work I have done on the Pell case followed by a bibliographical note also on my Academia page, “The Pell Papers.” I shall refer to the number of each paper (in text) where the article for each number is identified in the list immediately following.

I began writing with (1, 2) which drew attention to what I thought two key issues, namely, the way that the story of the complainant had shifted, and of the difficulties I saw in Milligan’s Cardinal. Much of the subsequent work involved trying to clear up the ambiguities, and an overview can be found in a long review of Milligan’s book (22). This was written in July, between the appeal hearing and the ruling. I look at:

  • The Get Pell Network
  • The significance of the Southwell Inquiry
  • The various coincidences in timing that indicate how, around the time when the complainant went to the police, various “memories” were suspiciously reconstructed in order to implicate Pell.
Continue reading Summary of the Pell Papers

Will the High Court show how degraded Australia’s legal system is?

Or will it correct the greatest miscarriage of justice in Australia’s history?

Victoria’s politically corrupt newspaper reports that the High Court of Australia will announce on Wednesday morning whether Cardinal Pell can appeal his conviction for sexual abuse, a charge made by a consummate liar who will not show his face.

The Pell conviction – a failure of the basic rules of reason

A number of times I have claimed that the two (supposedly) eminent judges who rejected Cardinal Pell’s appeal, (Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell) seem to know nothing about the rules of reason. They seem not to know that abstractly speaking matters of fact can always be otherwise, that nothing is impossible except a contradiction, that judgements about reliability and trustworthiness are based on the empirical evidence.

Chris Merritt, legal affairs editor at The Australian, commented (18 September) on Cardinal Pell’s appeal to the High Court in which the Cardinal’s lawyers take up the question of reasoning – or rather the failure of reason.

The State’s System of Justice Put on Trial

By Chris Merritt

BRET WALKER SC is an old-fashioned stickler for precise legal language. That is why his clinical evisceration of the judges who ruled against George Pell is so effective. Without a skerrick of emotion or one wasted word. Walker has torn the guts out of the Court of Appeal majority who rejected the cardinal’s appeal against convictions for sexually assaulting choirboys.

The special leave application drawn up by Walker and barrister Ruth Shann leads to an unstated but obvious conclusion: two of Victoria’s most senior judges utterly botched the cardinal’s case, not just on the facts but on the law. For the two judges who formed the majority, Chief Justice Anne Ferguson and Court of Appeal president Chris Maxwell, this document will make extremely difficult reading. Walker is widely regarded as one of the nation’s greatest lawyers. Yet his signature appears at the end of a document that accuses Ferguson and Maxwell of effectively reversing the onus of proof, engaging in “unorthodox reasoning,” “circular reasoning” and “erroneous judicial method”.

If the High Court agrees to hear this appeal, it will need to grapple with those arguments and determine whether the judicial method demonstrated by Ferguson and Maxwell is actually as flawed as Walker and Shann believe. The stakes are staggeringly high. This affair now concerns not just the freedom of a cardinal but the continued public standing of Victoria’s top judges and the man who might well be the nation’s greatest lawyer.

If the assessment of Walker and Shann is accepted by the High Court, it will amount to a crippling blow for Ferguson and Maxwell.

But consider the position of Walker and Shann. If this appeal fails, they will stand accused by their peers of making extraordinary assertions – amounting to judicial ineptitude – against the two most senior judges in Victoria. Whoever loses this argument will forever be damaged goods. But as things stand now, Walker and Shann have the better argument. It does look as though the cardinal has been the victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice.

In order to succeed, Pell’s legal team merely needed to show there was a reasonable doubt about the prosecution’s case. The onus of proof was up to the prosecution; it was not up to the cardinal to prove his innocence. Yet the special leave application asserts that the Court of Appeal majority decided the cardinal’s fate on the improper basis that it was up to the defence to prove that the prosecution case was impossible. If this is what happened – and a conclusive ruling is up to the High Court – it will devastate Victoria’s system of Criminal justice.

Jock Palfreeman and Bulgarian Justice

I have opened a page on Jock Palfreeman the Australian jailed in Bulgaria for killing a Bulgarian student son of a Bulgarian politician with enormous pull. The page provides news and updates on the case. If ever there was a case for Australian government intervention in overseas issues, this is it. Palfreeman has spent 11 years in jail, a third of his life. It’s enough whatever the case. Australia and Australians must raise their voice to what has become a political jailing engineered by powerful political forces behind the scenes.

John Howard’s tribute to Cardinal Pell

The lynch mob and sanctimonious weak-minded radio big-mouths did not deter former Prime Minister John Howard from providing a reference on behalf of Cardinal Pell to the Appeal Court . No screaming rope-carrying lynch mob would intimidate Australia’s most effective prime minister after Sir Robert Menzies.

This character reference is provided in the context of charges being dealt with in relation to Cardinal Pell.

I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges. None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.

I have known Cardinal Pell for approximately 30 years. We first became acquainted when he was, I think, an Assistant Bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Inevitably we became better known to each other after he became Archbishop of Melbourne and, later still, Archbishop of Sydney.

Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character. Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality. I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time.

Cardinal Pell is a lively conversationalist who maintains a deep and objective interest in contemporary social and political issues.

It is my view that he has dedicated his life to his nation and his church.”

– John Howard, Former Prime Minister of Australia