Image source www.cagle.com
Documents obtained under Freedom of Information laws recently revealed that NSW police officer Beth Cullen shredded documents from liaison meetings with Catholic Church officials from the Newcastle-Maitland diocese (see previous posting). The matter has been referred to the NSW enquiry, the Royal Commission, and the NSW Police Integrity Commission.
The head of the NSW enquiry, Ms. Cunneen, has now revealed that she will not consider the matter, as she claims it falls outside her terms of reference for the enquiry. She could have applied for her terms of reference to be widened to include this matter. She did not.
The NSW Police Minister has received his reports from police and, in response, has spoken to the State Parliament in defence of the officer, Ms. Beth Cullen. “I am informed that at no stage did the NSW police representative destroy any document which could be used in any investigation or prosecution,” he said. “I am also assured by the police force that the officer’s positive contribution to the field of child protection is unmatched.”
The NSW enquiry is now completely compromised, especially since these most recent developments follow on from the earlier decisions to allow Adelaide Archbishop, Phillip Wilson, to give evidence behind closed doors, and forcing a victim to do the same (see previous posting). The aim of the enquiry can only be to undermine the credibility of Newcastle Herald journalist, Joanne McCarthy, and police whistleblower, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox (see previous postings).
Its only purpose now becomes that of highlighting what not to do in such enquiries. Those responsible for the Royal Commission, and those giving submissions to it, need to take close note of the progress of this current, and deeply flawed, warm-up enquiry.
The other warm-up enquiry, set up by the Victorian State Parliament, has also given some pointers to what to watch out for. The most notable has been the tendency by Catholic Church officials to blame predecessors, who in turn were unavailable through age or death, to appear personally before the enquiry.
The Victorian enquiry further pointed to the tactic of selectively releasing some information during the enquiry, then the more damaging stuff after the spotlight had moved on (see previous posting).
While the findings of both of these preliminary enquiries will have little impact on wider public opinion, the failings of them will. People will be much more vigilant with regards to the Royal Commission when it commences public hearings in September.
[Postscript: Former Hunter-area police chief, Superintendent John Gralton, told the NSW enquiry he was sexually assaulted by a priest at his Catholic school. He said he gave a statement to an investigator, as well as the details of five or six other students who were abused at the school. He did not say what happened afterwards.]
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TOMORROW: Australian paedo-tourism in Indonesia
That’s all I can say
Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)