Pell’s ‘implausible’ Testimony Not Met with Facts to the Contrary
By Gerard Henderson
March 12, 2016
The evidence suggests that Justice Peter McClennan QC, AM, chairman of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, has undergone a legal conversion sometime during the past quarter of a century.
In 1991, Peter McClellan QC barrister at law (as he then was) wrote an article titled “ICAC: A Barrister’s Perspective”, in the journal Current Issues in Criminal Justice. This was a critique of the operation of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption in particular. However, the barrister extended his comments to cover royal commissions in general.
McClellan wrote: “In recent years there has been an increasing trend in government to invoke royal commissions of inquiry to investigate particular problems. The frequency of such inquiries and the sensational reporting which they have attracted has tended to create a belief in some people that this is an appropriate method of handling any matter of public controversy. This is a view expressed by the press.”
While recognising that “royal commissions may affect great community good”, McClellan argued that they might “cause considerable harm to persons unfairly trapped by the blaze of sensationalist publicity which can be created”. He concluded by maintaining that commissions of inquiry should accept “that persons should only be convicted after due process in the relevant court”.
That was 1991. Last week McClellan presided over Cardinal George Pell’s evidence to the royal commission’s case studies into the Catholic diocese of Ballarat and archdiocese of Melbourne.