On previous standards – standards for calling a royal commission – there would be a royal commission into Victoria’s Police. The Andrews government is negligent of the demands of justice in refusing an official investigation into VicPol. Does Andrews have something to fear?
George Pell saga makes case for one more royal commission in Victoria
Chris Mitchell, The Australian, 20 Decemb er 2020
In the wake of Vicpol’s pursuit of Cardinal George Pell and the failings of the two court cases and a Court of Appeal hearing to withstand a unanimous 7-0 verdict in favour of Pell in the High Court, a broadbased inquiry could also examine changes to the state’s sexual offences laws. When Mr Andrews tweeted after that High Court decision to alleged victims of sexual assault — “I see you, I hear you, I believe you” — what was he really saying? This newspaper’s former legal affairs editor Chris Merritt argued on April 7 that changes to the state’s laws effectively reversed the presumption of innocence until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
“Victorian legislation meant the Pell jury was denied the full story about the man who claimed to have been assaulted by the cardinal. Relevant evidence about the complainant was kept from the jury by virtue of legislation that was put in place with the clear intention of protecting those who claim to be victims of sexual assault,” Merritt wrote.
Victims’ stories are to be believed by police, and defendants’ ability to challenge those stories in court has been curtailed. The High Court found this was at the heart of the Pell matter. Experienced journalists already knew this.
The Age’s John Silvester wrote on February 27 that Vicpol must have relished the opportunity to reverse years of mishandling of clergy abuse cases: “Now police are told to come from a mindset of believing a person who says they have been sexually assaulted.”
In the case of Pell’s alleged assault of two choristers (one of whom had died but had denied ever being molested) at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in late 1996, Silvester wrote: “Pell was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the uncorroborated evidence of one witness, without forensic evidence, a pattern of behaviour or a confession … it is rare to run a case on the word of one witness, let alone gain a conviction.”