Cardinal Pell returns to Australia ‘to clear his name’. But what are his chances of a fair trial?

The Spectator

Damian Thompson

Cardinal George Pell, the head of the Vatican’s finances, has been charged with historic sex offences in his native Australia. He is returning there ‘to clear his name’. ‘I look forward to my day in court’, he said at a press conference in Rome this morning.

If I were in his shoes, I wouldn’t be looking forward to it. I believe – on the basis of the very sketchy evidence we’ve seen so far, and also my personal encounters with him – that the Cardinal is innocent of these charges. But what are his chances of a fair trial in Australia?

Let me quote at length from an article by Angela Shanahan in The Australian, published on June 11. It seems to be behind a paywall, but this is what she had to say:

Pell can never receive a fair trial. The “vibe” has taken over. The year-long pursuit of him by the police, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton’s recent frequent radio interviews and unprecedented commentary on the process, combined with the sustained efforts of the ABC and Fairfax Media, have ensured that any real evidence of wrongdoing has long become a secondary consideration to the vibe.

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