CNA Staff, Jun 27, 2020 / 13:02 pm
A member of the Parliament of Victoria has urged that there be an inquiry into the treatment of Cardinal George Pell by the state’s police and judiciary, months after Australia’s High Court unanimously overturned his conviction for five alleged counts of sexual abuse.
Bernie Finn, a member of the Victorian Legislative Council from the Liberal Party, said June 18 that “the integrity of the justice system in this state is very much on trial.”
“There are major questions that are desperately in need of answers. I would like to see an inquiry that is at arm’s length from Victoria Police, arm’s length from the judiciary and arm’s length from the government.”
Finn asked that Jill Hennessey, Attorney-General of Victoria, launch an investigation into former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Graham Ashton and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to discover “how we can avoid trial by media in future, how did the Court of Appeal get it so very wrong and how could an innocent man in this day and age in Victoria be jailed in the way that Cardinal Pell was”.
Cardinal Pell, prefect emeritus of the Secretariat for the Economy, was convicted in 2018 of five counts of child sexual abuse. He was alleged to have sexually assaulted two choir boys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.
On April 7 the seven justices of the High Court unanimously found that there was “no evidence” to support the accuser’s narrative beyond his own perceived credibility by the jury, and that, “acting rationally on the whole of the evidence,” the jury could not have avoided reasonable doubt about Cardinal Pell’s innocence.
“Plainly they did,” the justices concluded.
“Making full allowance for the advantages enjoyed by the jury,” the High Court said, “there is a significant possibility in relation to [the] charges... that an innocent person has been convicted.”