New Pell probe puts release of sex abuse royal commission redactions on hold

The Australian

April 23, 2020

By John Ferguson

Victorian authorities are still weighing up whether to support the release of redacted child sex abuse royal commission com­men­tary about Cardinal George Pell.

The federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, has written to the Andrews government to determine whether it is now possible to release dozens of pages of the final abuse report, which includes commentary on Cardinal Pell.

Mr Porter wrote to Victorian authorities last week seeking clarification from the government and investigators about whether the commission redactions could now safely be made public.

The letter was sent after a ­Herald Sun report suggested another complainant had emerged whose story was being examined by ­Victoria Police.

The Australian understands the Andrews government favours a quick release of the redactions, but police are yet to formally state whether this should happen.

Premier Dan Andrews spoke to Scott Morrison soon after the High Court quashed Cardinal Pell’s five sex convictions and freed him from Barwon Prison, where he finished the last of his 405 days in solitary confinement.

Mr Andrews called for the royal commission commentary to be released. It is understood Mr Porter’s letter was sent to ­Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy last week, and she will have to give the go-ahead.

The Premier’s strident call for the royal commission comment­ary to be released underpins where the government’s position is on the matter. The only stumb­ling block would be if police and prosecutors believed the release of the information could harm any future possible court action.

The Australian is not suggesting Cardinal Pell will be charged and police have refused to say if they are investi­gating the cardinal. It was reported that a complainant had emerged and spoken to police about events in the 1970s.

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