Top judge queries all RC findings


Australia’s top judge has called into question all findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse following its release of previously redacted sections of its landmark report referring to Cardinal George Pell.

In his ruling on this week’s decision by the Royal Commission to reveal the previously secret sections of its report, Mr Justice Andrew Bolt of the News Corp Court (main picture) cast doubt on all of the inquiry’s findings.

“I find that this costly and lengthy Royal Commission has failed in one of its most basic duties, that is to not make any findings against Cardinal George Pell,” Mr Justice Bolt said.

“If it failed on this very basic task by indulging itself in trivialities like listening to witnesses and weighing up facts and evidence to make findings critical of Cardinal Pell, why should we believe any of its other findings?

“When the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced the Royal Commission in November 2012, I made it clear that its terms of reference were woefully deficient because they did not specifically exclude any scrutiny and potential findings against Cardinal Pell.

“I simply made the point then that the sloppy drafting of its terms of reference meant there was a huge risk that the Commission would investigate Cardinal Pell and its final report may well besmirch what is in fact the good Cardinal’s unchallenged innocence which I have confirmed in my own judgements on multiple occasions.

“The Royal Commission’s report was released in December 2017 but we needed to wait until this week before seeing the monstrously unfair scapegoating of Cardinal Pell that the Commission has committed.

“I don’t know what went wrong with the Royal Commission but it clearly went off the rails.

“Its panel of Commissioners were clearly not up to the task and clearly not up to my standards of jurisprudence.

“Sadly the then Gillard Government chose seven non-entities as Royal Commissioners — Justice Peter McClellan as chair and a judge of Appeal in New South Wales; Justice Jennifer Coate of the Family Court of Australia; Bob Atkinson a former Queensland Police Commissioner; Robert Fitzgerald of the Productivity Commission; Helen Milroy a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist; Andrew Murray a former Senator for Western Australia; and Gail Furness a barrister as senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission.

“Then of course there were 15 other counsel assisting the Commission who obviously knew little of the law.

“This group of inexperienced try-hards were no match for my legal knowledge and training and I find they and their entire work as a Royal Commission to be legally faulty based on the simple fact that they ignored my previous rulings not to find against George Pell,” Mr Justice Bolt said.