Lawyers instructed to fight claim vigorously, inquiry told

Claim contested vigorously

The Church's insurer insisted on being 'kept in the loop' in the John Ellis case, after lawyers expressed concern at Cardinal Pell's approach, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

In evidence heard at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Friday, Peter Rush, then general manager of Catholic Church Insurance Ltd, complained to the business manager of the Sydney Archdiocese about being 'kept out of the loop' in the case and warned this could jeopardise the Church's insurance, the Commission heard.

Cardinal Pell is due to give evidence today. His testimony is eagerly anticipated after two weeks of hearings, in which Commission chairman Justice Peter McClellan has sought to establish Cardinal Pell's role in the Church's treatment of Mr Ellis, which the Commission has been told caused him harm and suffering.

The questions put to Cardinal Pell's private secretary of more than 10 years, Dr Michael Casey, may be a guide to what the Cardinal can expect. The 'conduit to the Cardinal,' who handles all his correspondence, admitted the Church failed in its moral responsibility to Mr Ellis and his own handling of Mr Ellis's case lacked compassion. Dr Casey testified that it was his job to convey instructions to the Church's lawyers, Corrs Chambers Westgarth, but the instructions came from Cardinal Pell.

'The general instructions were to vigorously defend the claim and to defeat the litigation, is that right?' asked Gail Furness SC for the Commission.

'Yes,' Dr Casey replied.

Dr Casey agreed a 'contrived' strategy to dispute at court whether the abuse had even occurred was arrived at after Cardinal Pell asked him to check that the Church's own investigator had verified Mr Ellis' allegations.

FULL COVERAGE

Pell instructed lawyers to fight Ellis claim 'tooth and nail' (The Sydney Morning Herald)

Victim offered no sympathy by dean of St Mary’s Cathedral (The Australian

Cardinal George Pell likely to face tough questioning at royal commission (The Sydney Morning Herald)

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