Anglican Newcastle Hearings Resume in Sydney

By Ian Kirkwood
Newcastle Herald
November 16, 2016

A Newcastle solicitor and prominent lay member of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle has defended his role in pushing against the current and former bishops of Newcastle, and justified his support for the defrocked cleric, Graeme Lawrence.

Robert Caddies, a parishioner at Christ Church Cathedral since 1987 and the holder of various lay positions, including diocesan solicitor from 1996 to 2005, was resuming evidence he began when the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was adjourned at the end of August.

At that time, he was questioned about letters that he and others had signed in support of the former dean, who was defrocked in 2012 by the previous bishop of Newcastle, Brian Farran, who retired the same year.

Mr Caddies said evidence given by abuse survivor CKH against Mr Lawrence was “impressive and credible” but he still believed the former dean had been denied natural justice by the church.

Questioned about his objectivity, Mr Caddies denied he was “pro-perpetrator” and said that if the commission looked at the 400 decisions he made during his time as an arbitrator on the Workers Compensation Commission it would find he usually sided with the person making the complaint.

He was questioned repeatedly by counsel assisting, Naomi Sharp, and the chairman of the commission, Peter McClellan, on the reason for writing letters to the commission, and to senior church figures, criticising the Bishop of Newcastle, Greg Thompson, as well as similar correspondence to the church over Mr Farran.

Asked whether the letter writers wanted Bishop Thompson removed, Mr Caddies said that it “may have been” an outcome, but it was not necessary.

Asked by Ms Sharp if he was “making this up as you go along”, he said he was – as she had pointed out – a solicitor of 45 years standing and he took his responsibilities very seriously.

On Mr Farran, Mr Caddies said the cathedral congregation had been “greatly reduced in size” during his tenure and that Mr Farran, as bishop, had been responsible.

“We were very unhappy about Bishop Farran,” Mr Caddies said. “Probably having him removed would have been a good outcome in many ways.”

Mr Caddies had also criticised Bishop Thompson for taking years to reveal he’d been “groomed” and assaulted at the age of 19 by a late former bishop, Ian Shevill. But in explaining his position, Mr Caddies said that he, like Bishop Thompson, had also been the victim of an unwanted sexual incident from an older male at 19, and so he did “understand”.








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