Category Archives: The Left

The two judges

Two Judges and the Baying Mob

Keith Windschuttle, QUADRANT, 12th April 2020

Victoria should join New South Wales in allowing high-profile criminal matters to be heard by a judge alone. Judges, at least, should be above the baying mob.
                                               — The Australian, 8 April 2020

This recommendation from an editorial in The Australian reflected many commentaries on the High Court verdict that freed Cardinal George Pell from prison and overturned his infamous conviction for alleged child sexual abuse. It recognised, rightly, that in high profile cases like this, juries can be swayed by thoughts that are both unreasonable and unjust.

In this case, the editorial reported that a common sentiment heard inside the trial court’s public gallery was: “Even if he didn’t do this he deserves to be punished,” a referral to practices in the Catholic Church to cover up allegations of this kind from the 1950s to the 1980s, long before Pell was in any position in the church to do something about it. In short, some members of the public, that is, potential jurors, think it is OK to make a man a scapegoat for something he didn’t do.

And, as I noted in earlier coverage of this issue in Quadrant, June 2019 (“Why the Second Jury Found George Pell Guilty“), the highly publicised public apology given to victims of child sexual abuse by Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten, recommended to them by the Royal Commission into the subject, was made just sixteen days before the start of Pell’s second trial in Melbourne’s County Court. So the jurors who convicted Pell began their task with the slogan of the apology, ‘I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you’, ringing in their ears. Little wonder they succumbed to this appeal.

Read the rest here

Fr Brennan comments on the Pell Affair

Lessons Learned from Pell’s Sad Saga of Suffering.

Father Frank Brennan SJ

The Australian, April 11, 2020


Two weeks before Cardinal ­George Pell faced the jury of 12 fellow citizens who convicted him of vile sexual assaults on two choirboys, Scott Morrison delivered the national apology to victims of child sexual assault. Morrison told parliament: “Not just as a father, but as a Prime Minister, I am angry too at the calculating destruction of lives and the abuse of trust, including those who have abused the shield of faith and religion to hide their crimes, a shield that is supposed to protect the innocent, not the guilty. They stand condemned … On behalf of the Australian people, this parliament and our government … I simply say I believe you, we believe you, your country believes you.”

In Pell’s case, the jury believed the complainant, Mr J, who said he recalled events from 22 years previously when he was a 13-year-old member of the St Patrick’s Cathedral choir. They were convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Pell committed these crimes in the priests’ sacristy after a Sunday 11am solemn mass. Now the High Court has unanimously decided that the jury got it wrong. The court has ruled that on the evidence presented at trial, no jury could properly be convinced beyond reasonable doubt that these assaults occurred. The highest court in the land has determined that Pell is not guilty of these charges. How can this be? What lessons are to be learnt for the wellbeing of victims and complainants? How can the Victorian criminal justice system be improved to ­assist complainants who come forward many years after experiencing dreadful trauma, while at the same time protecting those who are wrongly accused?

Continue reading Fr Brennan comments on the Pell Affair

Facing the rot in Vicpol (2)

This is the second part of an in-depth essay by Paul Collits on the stinking swamp of bigotry in which Daniel Andrews’ police force is mired.

Reforming VicPol in a Post Pell Environment – Part Two

Written by Paul Collits

Accepting that the Victorian institutions involved in getting Pell need reforming, this two part essay explores the uncanny parallels between the Pell case here and similar cases in the UK, and draws lessons from these in charting a course towards reform.

The Henriques Report on Operation Midland in the UK

The second UK case study which has an almost creepy resonance with the Pell case is the Carl Beech affair and the UK Met’s infamous Operation Midland (2014 to 2016).  To recap, a complainant known initially as “Nick” and subsequently revealed to be one Carl Beech alleged all sorts of horrendous crimes supposedly committed by a very high profile British political and other figures.  This was the paedophile ring’s paedophile ring.  He named names.  Big names.  And the Met simply “believed him”, trapped as it was in the moral panic associated with the sex abuse of children that followed the Jimmy Savile revelations and the various legal changes that had occurred in Britain, many driven by the Tony Blair Government.  Beech is now serving an 18 year prison sentence after his fabrications were revealed as such. 

A good summary of the relevance of the Beech case to Cardinal Pell can be found here, at Damian Thompson’s UK Spectator podcast, Holy Smoke.

Just as police trawling found its grim way from Britain to Victoria, so too did MeTooism and the treatment of all complainants as “victims”, flipping the presumption of innocence in the process.

Read the rest here

Facing the rot in VicPol

This is the first part of an in-depth essay by Paul Collits on the stinking swamp of bigotry in which Daniel Andrews’ police force is mired.

Reforming VicPol in a Post Pell Environment

Written by Paul Collits

Accepting that the Victorian institutions involved in getting Pell need reforming, this two part essay explores the uncanny parallels between the Pell case here and similar cases in the UK, and draws lessons from these in charting a course towards reform.

Since the Australian High Court’s legal exoneration of George Cardinal Pell, debates have taken off in many directions.  The baying mob has spoken through graffiti and on social media.  Media pundits have had their say.  The Cardinal’s supporter groups online have been overjoyed but are still angry.  International observers have suggested Australia’s justice system has dodged a bullet in having its reputation for the rule of law saved by the bell.  Politicians and others where perennially grieve for victims of abuse have mumbled and grumbled.  “We still believe you, indeed now, more than ever we believe you”, they chant.

Many want answers to the question – how did this happen in Australia?  There are now increasingly audible demands for an inquiry, or inquiries, into the key arms of the legal system in Victoria.  These demands are growing by the day.

Read the rest here

‘Pell’s kangaroo court’

Lawyer Michael McAuley’s summary of the Pell case on Mercatornet is the best I have seen among many outstanding commentaries and analyses following the High Court’s 7-nil decision favouring the cardinal.

Pell’s kangaroo court

A Sydney lawyer dissects the arguments in Australia’s most famous criminal trial by Michael McAuley Apr 20, 2020

On 7 April 2020 the High Court of Australia (which is equivalent to the US Supreme Court) upheld Cardinal George Pell’s appeal, quashing a Melbourne jury’s conviction of five charges of sexual assault. Cardinal Pell was released from prison (to the cheers of other inmates, some of whom he had got to know) where he had spent over a year.

The experience of Cardinal Pell gives fresh meaning to the term ‘kangaroo court’.

Complaint

The assaults were alleged to have occurred on either 15 or 22 December 1996 after Solemn High Mass, and on 23 February 1997, again after Solemn High Mass. There was one complainant, formerly a choirboy, at St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne, the capital of the state of Victoria. There was a second alleged victim, but he had died before the first alleged victim made a complaint to the police in 2015. The second alleged victim had, as an adult, denied to his mother he had ever been the victim of sexual assault.

Rest the rest here

Derryn Hinch – bigots never give up

Derryn Hinch tweeted ‘keep this is mind, George Pell has not been found innocent. He has been found not guilty “beyond reasonable doubt”’. Hinch’s purpose, of course, is to incite people to reject the High Court’s emphatic 7-nil verdict and keep the lynch mob moving.

Here’s the scoop, Derryn. In all criminal cases, the accused does not have to prove his innocence. The prosecution has to prove guilt. Watch my lips: An accused is innocent until proven guilty. Innocence is assumed. That’s our system. Cardinal Pell was innocent through the course of the legal action. The High Court showed to what appalling depths the operation of the law has sunk in Daniel Andrew’s Victoria.

There is a second consideration here that Hinch’s addled mind seems to have missed. In throwing doubt on the Pell verdict, he undermines those cases where he has no doubt about the person’s innocence. Indeed, he throws all not-guilty verdicts into doubt. It is surely an unwished for outcome of his bigotry.

Hinch can comfort himself, and no doubt he does, with the collective cry across twitter that Cardinal Pell is not innocent – merely not guilty. The great Barrie Cassidy, frontline ABC warrior, like Hinch, could not help himself. He just had to blurt out in high emotion that Pell was merely ‘not guilty’. What does it say about the ABC when one of its ‘most respected’ journalists cannot help sinking to the level of an unthinking bigot?