Commission of Inquiry finds whistleblower 'not credible'

Margaret Cuneen

A Special Commission of Inquiry into allegations of a cover-up of child sexual abuse claims in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle has released findings that are damning of the man who claimed to blow the whistle, reports the ABC on Yahoo7.

The four-volume report, three volumes of which have been released by Commissioner Margaret Cunneen SC, uncovered no evidence to show that senior police ever tried to ensure child abuse offences were not properly investigated.

One confidential volume contains findings that may lead to criminal charges being laid against a senior Catholic Church official.

The inquiry found that Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox was not a credible witness and that it was appropriate for senior police to instruct Chief Inspector Fox to cease his own investigations. The commission also questioned Fox's integrity surrounding the inquiry, questioning his decision to provide police information to a journalist.

'The commission formed the view that Fox had engaged in conduct that was inconsistent with the integrity required of a police officer,' the report said. 'He provided sensitive information about police investigations (including an internal police report and a victim's statement) to a journalist, [Fairfax reporter Joanne] McCarthy.'

The report has also found that senior Church officials did have information relating to child sexual abuse in the area that would have assisted a police investigation.

It named Bishop Leo Clarke, who was head of the diocese for 20 years. It says his conduct in failing to tell authorities about one priest was 'inexcusable' and that he was motivated by a fear it would bring scandal on the Church.

'A substantial body of evidence before the commission confirmed that senior Diocesan officials were aware at various times of reports or complaints that [Father Denis] McAlinden had sexually abused children, the first instance of reported abuse occurring in 1954 and involving victim AE,' it said.

'It took more than 40 years however for the Diocese to report to police any aspect of McAlinden's offending history. The evidence reveals a disturbing story of repeated inaction and failure on the part of Church officials to report McAlinden to police.'

FULL COVERAGE

Special Commission of Inquiry clears police, finds whistleblower Peter Fox 'not credible' over child abuse cover-up claims (ABC/Yahoo7)

Special Commission of Inquiry: 'Hero' officer Peter Fox branded a liar (SMH)

Lateline whistleblower Peter Fox ‘a zealot’ (The Australian)

Sexual abuse victims and families pay tribute to whistleblower cop (ABC)

Diocese response to child sex inquiry findings (Maitland Mercury)

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