Senator Xenophon escapes sanction for naming priest

Senate President John Hogg says he will take no action against independent senator Nick Xenophon for wrongly naming in parliament an Adelaide priest as a perpetrator of clerical sexual abuse, reports The Australian.

In a letter to Monsignor Ian Dempsey obtained by The Australian, Senator Hogg said it was not his role "to make judgments about the speeches made by senators".

He said that he had already reminded senators "to use their great power of freedom of speech responsibly" after Senator Xenophon used parliamentary privilege in September 2011 to name Monsignor Dempsey as one of three priests who allegedly abused the former head of the Traditional Anglican Communion, John Hepworth, in a Catholic seminary in the 1960s.

Senator Hogg also noted in the letter that the Senate had agreed to publish a response from Monsignor Dempsey in September, becoming the first house of parliament anywhere in the world to allow unelected people to respond on the parliamentary record.Advertisement

The president's letter came in response to a formal complaint from Monsignor Dempsey, in which he had asked for disciplinary action to be taken against Senator Xenophon.

This followed a decision by South Australia's Director of Public Prosecutions to recommend no abuse charges be laid against Monsignor Dempsey, after a 19-month investigation found there was insufficient evidence for a jury to have a reasonable chance of conviction.

FULL STORY Senator Xenophon escapes sanction for naming priest (Australian)

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