Catholic church interferred in investigation
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TONY JONES, PRESENTER: More dramatic evidence has been revealed at the new Special Commission of Inquiry into the handling of child sexual abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese in NSW.
Former policeman, now state parliamentarian Troy Grant says a Catholic priest he was investigating was tipped off by a Catholic nun before his arrest. And he refuted claims he’d suggested a Catholic mafia existed within the police force.
Suzie Smith reports from Newcastle.
SUZIE SMITH, REPORTER: National Party MP Troy Grant joined the police force in 1988. As a 25-year-old he took on the case of Father Vincent Ryan. By the late 1990s, 31 Ryan victims had come forward. But Troy Grant says his investigation was obstructed by senior members of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese.
The former policeman told the inquiry a senior nun visited his home during the investigation. The same nun also gave him a false statement.
TROY GRANT, MEMBER FOR DUBBO: The nun provided me with false evidence and played a active role in tipping off the priest the night before I arrested him.
SUZIE SMITH: Troy Grant also says he has documentary evidence of senior clergy being involved in covering up crime.
TROY GRANT: I’ll be giving that evidence to whatever inquiry wants to hear it. And it’s not evidence of just my opinion or my thought. I’ve documentary written evidence to that effect.
SUZIE SMITH: The National Party MP said he was frustrated by the lack of will by the Director of Public Prosecutions to charge senior clergy.
TROY GRANT: Ultimately I believed I had enough to prove the offence at the time which was misprision of a felony for what occurred in 1974 and ’75. The DPP disagreed with that.
SUZIE SMITH: In a statement to the inquiry, Troy Grant clarified a conversation he had with Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox between 2002 and 2003. Mr Grant disputed Peter Fox’s evidence that he spoke to him about a Catholic mafia operating in the police force hindering investigations into clerical abuse.
JOURNALIST: Mr Grant, do you maintain that you never used the expression “Catholic mafia”?
TROY GRANT: Yes, I do, consistent with the evidence I gave under oath. That’s correct, that’s my recollection.
JOURNALIST: Did you raise any concerns about police involvement or police trying to obstruct these sort of investigations.
TROY GRANT: I never did, never had, never had reason to. I was never obstructed. My investigations from a policing point of view went through as per normal, as is reflected in the results achieved both in the criminal and the civil courts for my matters.
SUZIE SMITH: But in his signed statement to the commission Mr Grant says he and Mr Fox spoke about, “Bishop Michael Malone and his level of help or hindrance, Monsignor Patrick Cotter, who at some point passed away, Sister Evelyn Woodward and Father Brian Lucas.”
Troy Grant ended his press conference with this character assessment of DCI Fox’s ability as a police investigator.
TROY GRANT: He didn’t leave any level of detail to chance. He pursued down every rabbit hole, every lead that was made known to him. As I’ve been quoted in the Sydney press, if I was a victim of crime, I would want him as my investigator. His level of victim care I think is second to none and I think that’s been demonstrated over a number of investigations he’s undertaken in the Newcastle area.
SUZIE SMITH: Following Troy Grant appearance, Peter Fox was cross-examined for the rest of the afternoon. He told the inquiry a key witness had contacted him to say the officers of Strike Force Lantel had been harassing her and this had caused her to consider walking away from the investigation.
Late today three police officers applied for leave to be excluded from giving evidence because of ill health. Greens MLC David Shoebridge has told Parliament he is concerned that police won’t be able to be cross-examined.
DAVID SHOEBRIDGE, NSW GREENS MP (male voiceover): “What actions has the Minister taken to ensure the police who have been requested to appear as witnesses will in fact attend the inquiry?”
MIKE GALLACHER, NSW POLICE MINISTER (male voiceover): “I would have thought that was a matter between the Special Commissioner of Inquiry and the Commissioner of Police. No-one has raised anything of that nature with me.”
SUZIE SMITH: Commissioner Margaret Cunneen is considering the medical evidence regarding the absent officers.
Suzanne Smith, Lateline.