Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Newcastle Anglican diocese day three | live blog

Former Bishop Richard Appleby leaving the courthouse after he was cross-examined on day three of the royal commission in Newcastle.
Former Bishop Richard Appleby leaving the courthouse after he was cross-examined on day three of the royal commission in Newcastle.

Thursday, August 4

Day three recap:

  • Former Bishop Richard Appleby gave evidence and insisted he had no knowledge of inappropriate relationships or of child sex abuse allegations during his term in the diocese. Questions were raised about the church’s responsibility to the children at the time and the actions the church took after the allegations were exposed.
  • Priest Colvin Ford gave his statements which referred to the “gang of three” who were protecting Peter Rushton. Ford revealed an incident in 1998 incident where which a team of removalists was forced to pack up homosexual pornography – including some allegedly involving children – while its owner, Father Peter Rushton, stood by watching.
  • Child abuse victim CKA gave evidence involving priest child sex abuser CKC, who abused CKA and his brother CKB. CKA talked about the effect the abuse had on his life and the difficulties he had trying to report the abuse. He said the process of reporting the abuse was as bad as the abuse itself.

Ian Kirkwood and Joanne McCarthy give their quick three minute wrap up of the day below


The hearing has finished for today and we will be back tomorrow from 10am. We will have a recap of today’s hearing later this afternoon. 

You can follow and get involved with the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #shinethelight.

Bishop Richard Appleby gives evidence


Bishop Appleby is former Assistant Bishop of Newcastle from 1983 to 1992 under Bishop Alfred Holland. He is 75 years old.

Bishop Appleby became the Samaritans Foundation chairman.

Appleby said Holland delegated matters to him and left him with those responsibilities.

Appleby said he moved from Christchurch Cathedral to Adamstown after Graeme Lawrence ended his time as Dean.

Appleby has told the royal commission he is not a member of the Society of the Holy Cross, which is the Anglican organisation that favours the Catholic church and is against things like the ordination of women.

Appleby joined a working party to develop the national professional standards scheme from 2001 and was also represented on the Newcastle diocese professional standards group.

Appleby said he had no recollection of being a member of the panel of triers within the diocese, but he didn’t believe it met during his time in the diocese. The panel of triers had a part in professional standards proceedings.

Appleby was a Morpeth College student between 1965 and 1966. There were up to 40 students there during that time.

Appleby knew Graeme Lawrence who was a student at the college at that time. Peter Rushton was not there.

Sharp: “What was the culture of Morpeth College? Was it a very close knit community.”

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp during day three of the royal commission in Newcastle. Picture Jeremy Piper

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp during day three of the royal commission in Newcastle. Picture Jeremy Piper

Appleby: “Most of the students were very committed to their work and worked hard. There were a few who weren`t and really became bits of troublemakers and just didn’t give their attention to their academic work.”

Appleby said he had no knowledge of sexual relationships between priests.

Sharp has just asked Appleby whether it was striking that Graeme Lawrence, Rushton and CKC were at Morpeth College in roughly the same period.

Appleby: “Certainly during the years I was the assistant bishop and was there for ex officio on the college council, the answer would be no.

“I find it difficult when i look back on the college to see anything there which would suggest a culture which was encouraging, promiting inappropriate sexual relationships.”

Justice McClellan has asked why entirely unsuitable people ended up at the college.

Appleby has just told the royal commission that some bishops had rigorous processes of screening students for the college, and some had fairly lax processes. He said Newcastle became one of the more rigorous in the land.

He described the acceptance of Robert Ellmore at Morpeth College as absolutely disastrous and catastrophic.

Appleby is being questioned by Justice McClellan about the relationship between priests and children.

McClellan: “Do you accept the church through all of your time as a church ordained member of the church had a particular responsibility to those children to ensure that the trust was not breached?”

McClellan: “Do you think that given the particular that is placed, and was placed in you, as a senior member of the church that you failed?”

Appleby: “No I don’t.”

McClellan: "Do you think you failed?" Appleby: "No I don't."

Appleby is being questioned about a statement by a woman whose husband was a trainee priest at Morpeth.

The woman said there were many rumours about homosexual priests and “certain priests had fancied little boys”.

Appleby has repeated his denial that he ever knew anything about such rumours at Morpeth during his time there or at the diocese.

It has just been put to Appleby that a woman has described Morpeth College as “Satan’s playground” because that was what it was called in the 1970s.

He said he had not heard that.

Appleby is now being questioned about Graeme Lawrence.

He has told the royal commission he formed a friendship with Lawrence and got to know him quite well. He lived next door to Lawrence for a number of years.

He had “very much a professional bishop/priest relationship” with the priest CKC.

“He was not someone who had any particular role as i recall it, within the general leadership of the diocese.”

Appleby is being questioned about Rushton. 

Appleby is now engaged in a lengthy explanation of the structure of dioceses and parishes at the request of Justice McClellan. We are now hearing about archdeacons, deans, area deans, bishops, parishes and are learning the fascinating view that Appleby believes deans are like shop stewards.

McClellan: “That sounds like an industrial structure.”

McClellan: “And you say you didn’t know of any problems in your time?”

Appleby: “No. No. Absolutely not.”

McClellan: “That rather suggests the system didn’t work very well?”

Appleby: “I suspect it does, but certainly there is, and I speak the absolute truth, I was not aware.”

I speak the absolute truth, I was not aware.

Bishop Richard Appleby

Appleby is now giving a very expansive speech about something called the “caveat list” which was in place in the early 1980s. The list had the names of problem priests.

McClellan: “If a bishop or an archbishop had a report that one of the priests in his diocese had sexually assaulted someone without that resulting in a criminal trial, in the days when the list existed, would that person’s name have gone on to the list?”

Appleby said there were about 25 or 30 names on the list.

There were generally about 25 or 30 names on the list (of problem priests with sexual issues).

Bishop Richard Appleby

Justice McClellan, very quickly, asked: “Do we have this list by the way?”

Appleby said he saw Peter Rushton about once a month.

Sharp: “Were you aware from time to time he had fostered boys from St Albans?”

Appleby: “I wasn’t aware of that and I must say I’m quite shocked, when I discovered that. But no, I was not aware of that.”

Sharp is now questioning Bishop Appleby about solicitor Keith Allen.

Sharp: “Is it your evidence that you haven’t been in contact with him from time to time in recent years?”

Appleby: “No, I’ve not had, no, as I said, I think 1999 he contacted me.”

Sharp: “Are you sure about that?”

Appleby: “I have no recollection of any formal contact or meetings with him, no.”

Sharp: “Have you spoken to him at all about evidence you might give at the royal commission.”

“Definitely not. I’ve not spoken with anyone apart from solicitor and barrister about it.”

Naomi Sharp is now questioning Bishop Appleby about CKA’s allegation that he met with Appleby in 1984 to complain about Bridge and others.

Appleby said there was “every possibility but I couldn’t say with certainty” that he met with CKA about Bridge.

He said Bridge had launched a large art union without any diocesan permission, and it was exposing the diocese to significant risk.

Sharp: “CKA has said that he disclosed his abuse to you at the hands of CKC. Is it your evidence that you have no recollection of that or that you completely deny that such a disclosure was made to you?”

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp.

Appleby: “As I indicated just a moment ago, there is absolutely no recollection.”

Appleby said CKA did not tell him about Rushton.

“I believe my normal practice would have been to dictated a file note, an aide memoire, and I would have given a copy of that to Bishop Holland and I would have seen that action was done. Because I wasn’t told, none of that happened and I regret now I wasn’t told because if I had been told I could have acted.”

“I’ve had a reputation over the years for dealing with such matters in a decisive and firm way and I believe that had I known about it, I would have done exactly the same things in those years.”

Bishop Appleby has agreed that a priest sexually abusing a child is an “extremely serious allegation”.

He has agreed he was a natural contact point for receiving a complaint.

Sharp has asked Appleby his view of Paul Rosser, QC representing the priest CKC after he was charged with sexually abusing CKA.

Appleby: “The potential conflict of interest. On the one hand acting for in the best interests of the diocese as the chancellor. I mean the chancellor in terms of the Anglican arrangement is the one who gives advice principally on church law, on canon law, to the diocesan bishop and insofar as it impinged on that, then there could be a problem. But insofar as – I mean, it didn’t then maybe there was not a problem.”

Sharp: “Were you told that Mr Allen was the solicitor in that criminal prosecution?”

Appleby: “Yes.”

Mr Allen was on the diocesan council. Appleby said Mr Allen at least would have had to declare a conflict of interest and not take any part in any discussion.

Appleby said the diocese had a role in supporting any parishioner with a grievance against a priest.

Sharp has just asked Appleby if there is “some sort of clash” in having a solicitor acting as solicitor for a priest on a child sex charge also being a member of the diocesan council where the diocese has a responsibility to the parishioner.

“Yes,” said Appleby.

Sharp is now asking Appleby about the statement of Teresa Burns, a youth worker for the diocese, who spoke about a meeting with Appleby and an Anglican priest.

Sharp has just put to Appleby that during the meeting the priest and Appleby talked about James Brown. The priest’s son had told Burns about being sexually abused by James Brown. Appleby has denied the meeting occurred.

Sharp: “Ms Burns says that at that meeting she was told that Brown was going to be moved to Maitland”

Appleby repeatedly denied such a meeting.

Sharp is just putting to Appleby that there are now three people who have given evidence of speaking to Appleby about child sex offenders in the diocese while he was in a senior position.

Appleby: “I can just repeat what I’ve said that had such disclosures been made I would be absolutely clear in that I would have been appalled and shocked that such behaviour was happening and I would have acted upon it. The fact that I have no recollection of it, the fact that I did not report the matter to Bishop Holland and so on, there’s no evidence of that, I can only say that even though they have said they did report these matters to me in 1984 and 1987, I do not believe that that is true.”

I can only say that even though they have said they did report these matters to me in 1984 and 1987, I do not believe that that is true.

Bishop Richard Appleby

Appleby is now being questioned about why he went to Wyong after priest Stephen Gray and others trashed a rectory.

McClellan: “What did you think had happened?”

Appleby: “I believe there had been a disturbance, probably fighting had gone on inside the house, people had been pushed against walls and things like that.”

There has just been a loud round of laughter in the media room, where there are members of the public, after Justice McClellan asked how Appleby worked out that Gray was responsible for the trashing.

“He might have been an innocent party,” said McClellan.

“It seems very odd.”

Appleby is now making heavy work of explaining why there was such a major response from the diocese to a “trashing” report.

Appleby has only said Gray was behaving in “an odd way”.

Gray was actually about to be charged with sexually abusing a child.

Justice McClellan.

Justice McClellan.

McClellan: “When you went down, having been told there was damage done, you went there with the knowledge that he had been facing difficulties and had been reacting to them?”

Appleby: “yes.”

McClellan: “Why did you then assume that he had to go rather than be assisted by you in his difficulties.”

Appleby: “I cannot be certain but I think my instructions were I should come back with his resignation.”

Appleby said he had no knowledge of the allegations about Gray, or his later conviction, until only a couple of days ago.

Appleby said he asked Gray “What on earth has gone on here?” but took it no further.

Sharp: “Is it the case Bishop Appleby that you were well aware that the nature of the disturbance was Rev Gray was alleged to have sexually abused a boy?”

Is it the case Bishop Appleby that you were well aware that the nature of the disturbance was Rev Gray was alleged to have sexually abused a boy?

Royal commission counsel assisting Naomi Sharp

Appleby: “No, that was total news to me when I discovered that just recently. Never heard it before.”

Sharp: “Is that a truthful answer?”

Appleby: “Absolutely truthful. Absolutely.”

“No, that was total news to me when I discovered that just recently. Never heard it before.”

Bishop Richard Appleby

Appleby is now being questioned about what he thought when solicitor Keith Allen asked him for a reference.

McClellan: “Didn’t you say to yourself ‘This is extraordinary. I surely need some explanation for what’s going on?’”

Appleby said he would have thought it was best left with Bishop Holland. 

CKL gives evidence


CKL is now giving evidence.

CKL is 62 years old. His parents were involved in the Anglican Church.

CKL’s mother was church organist and she was devoted to the church.

CKL: “Mum was the religious one and I think dad just followed.”

He had two young brothers.

CKL has told the royal commission that priests were examples of how good people live their lives.

Priests were frequently in their house. They included CKC.

“As soon as CKC joined our parish I instinctively picked up a bad vibe from him,” CKL said.

It was 1970. Because of CKC, CKL started distancing himself from the church which caused problems with his mother.

CKL is telling the royal commission about his increasing concerns about both the priest CKC and a second man after incidents where both men tried to offer the young CKL an alcoholic drink.

In 1975 CKL asked his mother where his younger brothers were, and she replied that they were staying overnight at the rectory.

“I was angry that my mother delivered my brothers to CKC like lambs to the slaughter,” he said.

Months later he and his mother went for a drive because she said she needed to speak to the bishop about something important. They went to a “churchy-looking” building where his mother went inside. She came out crying.

Years later he learnt his brothers, CKA and CKB, had been sexually assaulted by CKC on the weekend they stayed at the rectory.

CKL said CKA is “not the same person he used to be”, and he hadn’t seen CKB for many years.


The royal commission is considering an application from a former Hunter Anglican priest to have his name suppressed after a professional standards hearing involving inappropriate behaviour by him in relation to adult women.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp does not support the suppression order. She has referred to three Newcastle Herald articles in 2010 in which the priest was named.


The hearing is back from a lunch break.

It is expected to decide if it will keep the pseudonym for CKC.

It is possible CKC may be re-charged and there are prospects of a re-trial, but would be unlikely within the next two years.

Alleged victims of CKC support the application of the state to keep the pseudonym of CKC.

However, Justice McClellan has said that the circumstances for continuing the pseudonym CKC are not compelling.

Justice McClellan has ruled that the priest CKC’s name should remain suppressed so that a possible future trial is not prejudiced.


The commission has broken for lunch.

Here’s a wrap up of what has happened so far during day three:

  • Colvin Ford gave his statements which referred to the “gang of three” who were protecting Peter Rushton.
  • Child abuse victim CKA gave evidence involving priest child sex abuser CKC, who abused CKA and his brother CKB. CKA talked about the effect the abuse had on his life and the difficulties he had trying to report the abuse. He said the process of reporting the abuse was as bad as the abuse itself.
  • The royal commission is now reconsidering the application to suppress CKC’s name.

You can read Joanne McCarthy’s story about CKA in October of 2010 here.

Read Ian Kirkwood and Joanne McCarthy’s reports from today’s hearing below:

You can follow and join in the conversation on Twitter, using the hashtag #shinethelight.


The royal commission is now reconsidering the application to suppress CKC’s name.

Justice McClellan has asked whether there was publicity about a court case involving CKC and CKA in 2001, where CKC would have been identified.

Mr Ian Temby, representing the state of NSW, has argued there could be a retrial.

Temby: “While it cannot be said that the course of criminal justice has commenced to flow because no fresh charge has been laid, the information we have is that is likely to occur and the safe and prudent course is for the present pseudonym order to be maintained.”

Mr Temby said a trial was likely in a year or two - meaning CKC could be charged in the foreseeable future.

Mr Ian Temby, representing the state of NSW.

Mr Ian Temby, representing the state of NSW.

Justice McClellan addressed the commission and said it was not uncommon for people to be named in the course of inquiries and for there subsequently to be criminal proceedings that flow from the material before the inquiry.

McClellan asked Mr Temby: “Why should this inquiry take a different view in relation to CKC than would normally be taken in relation to such matters?”

The royal commission has been told a trial would not be held in Newcastle, or this year.

Mr O’Brien, barrister for CKA wants to support Mr Temby’s application.

O’Brien told the commission that the safe and prudent course would be to remain with the pseudonym.

“The real danger is that there will no doubt in the fullness of time be a report handed down by the royal commission,” the commission heard.

In response, McClellan said: “What we would not do would say anything that report by way of conclusion, you understand, that could be published.”

He continued to tell the commission that he understood the concern of clients and that nothing would occur which might prejudice a prospective trial.

Witness CKA gives evidence


Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp is asking questions of CKA in relation to the call CKA made to the sexual abuse hotline, when he spoke to Graeme Laurence.

Ms Sharp said that Mr Laurence made file notes of that phone call.

Part of the file note reads:

“CKA said that his mother had brought this to the attention of Bishop Shevill and that he had spoken to Bishop Appleby but the ‘matter had been swept under the carpet’”.

CKA is finished giving evidence.


Barrister Watts for Keith Allen and Doctor Sandra Smith is now questioning CKA.

The royal commission has been told there was a committal hearing at Port Macquarie in relation to charges against CKC’ based on allegations by CKA.

Watts: “At some point between the committal hearing concluding and the trial starting is when you, I gather, informed someone at the DPP that you had been thinking about the events that happened to you and you said ‘I believe I made a mistake. It wasn’t 1974, it was 1975.”

Barrister Watts for Keith Allen and Sandra Smith

Barrister Watts for Keith Allen and Sandra Smith

CKA told the hearing that was correct.

Watts asked if someone from the DPP explained to CKA why the trial did not commence on day one, as it was intended.

The royal commission has been told there was a new indictment and new charges where the allegations related to 1975, not 1974.

Once the register was produced CKA  was told by the DPP that the register had to be verified “and there’s a chance that the trial may end”.

CKA said he was given options, to withdraw the prosecution, or to proceed with the chance that he [CKC] would be acquitted. He went on to say that he was given “very little” prospect of CKC being convicted. He told the commission that he “really had no choice”.

"It was a whirlwind...I didn't have a clue what was going on,"


The royal commission was told the register provided evidence that challenged CKA’s allegation of abuse at a certain time.

Watts is now questioning CKA about his statement where he said in 2010 he was referred to psychologist Sandra Smith.

Watts has suggested that CKA never met Sandra Smith. CKA said he met someone who introduced themselves to him as Sandra Smith.

CKA tells the commission that his GP did not recommend him to see Dr Smith. CKA said that he would have seen “anyone at that point”.

CKA told the commission that he saw Dr Smith at Cleary Smith in Hamilton. However, Watts has said that Dr Smith never had any practices or offices in Cleary Street.


Barrister Gerace for Peter Mitchell is questioning CKA.

Gerace is questioning CKA about his allegation the register was fabricated.

In his email to Brian Farran in 2010 CKA wrote that Peter Mitchell, the diocese registrar, “organised Rosser and that idiot solicitor to fabricate the registry (sic)”.

CKA said Mr Mitchell’s conviction for defrauding the diocese of nearly $200,000 and the fact that he walked into the court with the register was the basis on which he wrote the email.

Barrister Gerace for Peter Mitchell.

Barrister Gerace for Peter Mitchell.

CKA said he was very distressed throughout the trial.


Barriser Mr Booth for Paul Rosser is now questioning CKA.

Mr Booth is questioning CKA about the allegation that Paul Rosser, QC, Graeme Lawrence and the accused priest CKC were outside a court when allegations against CKC were withdrawn.

CKA originally said he was sexually abused in 1974 and it was 1975.

Barriser Mr Booth for Paul Rosser.

Barriser Mr Booth for Paul Rosser.

That was changed.

The royal commission is now considering the reason why the court case did not proceed in 2001, including the tendering of a church register which was not consistent with the day CKA said he was sexually abused.

Mr O’Brien for CKA has told the royal commissiuon there were real issues about the church register.


Bishop Appleby’s barrister Skinner is now asking CKA questions.

CKA has just told the royal commission he’s been “angry for a long time”, after Mr Skinner referred to an email CKA sent to Brian Farran in 2010.

Skinner has asked CKA why there is no reference to the 1984 meeting with Bishop Appleby in that email.

CKA: “It is not the complete story.”

Skinner: “Why would you send an email like that and not make it complete.”

CKA: “Because it was an angry email, trying to make a point.”

Skinner has asked why CKA has written 10 clergymen’s names in his email but not Appleby.

CKA: “I might not have been as angry with Appleby.”

Parts of the email from CKA to Brian Farran read:

“I’m living on the streets because of what the church has done to me. Well, guess what? I’m gong to the media and i’m going to tell them everything I know. Want some names? CKC, james Brown, Arthur Bridge and his girlfriend Wayne Sheehan, Graeme Laurence (the leader of the pack), Brian Roach, Peter Rushton, Paul Rosser, Peter Mitchell...I’ve got nothing left for you to take from me, it’s funny that you had money to pay Rosser but can’t find the money to allow me to eat or sleep in a bed.”


Barrister Alexis for Michael Elliott and diocese business manager John Cleary is asking questions of CKA.

Mr Alexis has asked CKA about his disappointment at the healing service that Graeme Lawrence, Bishop Herft and Mr Cleary were to attend, but did not attend. CKA has conceded it might have been Bishop Farran who was to have been at the healing service. CKA accepted Mr Cleary had no part in the organisation of the healing service.

He said Mr Cleary was “pivotal” in providing redress and appropriate respect.

CKA told the commission that: “Unfortunately for John he was still stuck with the same, I use the term, mob of crooks up above him.”

CKA said his concern about Mr Cleary was in terms of him being left with the dual roles of business manager and professional standards director, until Mr Cleary appointed Michael Elliott as professional standards director.


The commission is back after a short recess.

CKA is now answering questions from counsel assisting Naomi Sharp.

He is talking about the harassment he has received.

“There’s a lot of people in the diocese who know who I am and I’ve been a constant agitator,” CKA told the commission.

CKA’s barrister Mr O’Brien.

CKA’s barrister Mr O’Brien.

CKA is talking about threats he has received.

He told the commission that there was an entire weekend of threats, just over and over and over, text threats, ringing up, texting, threats, harm to him and his children and grandchildren.

CKA has named Simon Adam, a warden at the cathedral, as a man he alleges he found in his backyard. CKA has told the royal commission he drove to Sydney the following day and his 10 wheel nuts were allegedly undone.

CKA’s barrister Mr O’Brien is raising an issue.

CKA said he told his father and stepmother, who held positions in Reverend Bridge’s parish, about his concerns about Bridge. Mr O’Brien asked if they shared his concerns? CKA replied with “absolutely”.

CKA said his father and stepmother resigned from their positions in the parish after a meeting with Bishop Richard Appleby at which their concerns about Arthur Bridge were discussed.

The commission heard that CKA’s father was asked to resign by Bishop Holland. 

A resignation letter was tendered by CKA’s father “under protest”.

"He was instructed to by Bishop Holland. Bishop Holland revoked his licence,"


Reactions on social media


The commission is now going into morning recess.

Here are some previous stories The Herald reported on Peter Rushton:

You can join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #shinethelight.

Witness CKA will now give evidence


The next witness is CKA, who will talk about his experiences of being sexually abused as a child.

He is 55, and has several siblings, including younger brother CKV. CKA is a Hunter man who first contacted the Newcastle Herald in 2010.

His mother was the organist at their church, and his dad worked at the church.

“Mum decided when I was young that I was going to be a priest,” CKA said.

“(Being an altar boy) was actually something I aspired to because I wanted mum to be proud.”

"From as early as I can remember, my family were very religious and were all actively involved in the Church of England,"


CKA was in contact with CKC, a parish priest. CKA’s mother put CKC on a pedestal.

Father Peter Rushton was also a regular at his house. Rushton would often drop off an “orphan kid”.

CKC began to sexually assault CKA.

"It was like she was as close to being with God as she could get,”


CKA has told the commission CKC would even take him out of class by telling teachers CKA was needed to serve as an altar boy at a funeral. He was sexually abused on those trips.

CKC and Rushton were often together at these trips.

CKA remembers a trip to The Entrance Anglican church where the priest laughed and said “It’s not like you to share”.

“I was 10 years old at the time and CKC was about 30. For the five years I served as an altar boy from 1971 to 1975 he sexually abused me. or the five years he was an alter boy, CKC sexually abused him. The abuse took place fortnightly and escalated over time. It consisted of groping, fondling, oral sex, digital and penile anal penetration,"


CKA said he could not disclose because no-one would believe him against a priest.

CKC moved and CKA was relieved that the abuse would end. Instead CKC rang CKA’s mother and asked for CKA and his brother to stay overnight with CKC for a special service.

CKA said to his mum, "Remember what you told me what men should not do to other men?” She said “yes” and I said "well that's what father CKC has done to me”.

CKC sexually abused CKA and his brother that weekend. During the drive home with his mother, CKA spoke to his mother about what happened.

Father Peter Rushton.

Father Peter Rushton.

His mother said she would talk to his father about it.

CKA would not stay around after his mother’s funeral because CKC was there.

CKA later found out that his older brother drove his mother to see a bishop about what had happened to her son and she came out of the meeting very upset.

When his mother died suddenly in 1977 CKC delivered the sermon at her funeral. This was the first time that I had seen CKC in two years

CKA said he went to police and said CKC molested him. 

CKA told the commission that instead of taking his statement, he simply told him to ‘go and talk to your priest’. He told the commission that “The last person I wanted to talk to was a priest.”

"I found this day particular distressing because i was pall-bearer. I was 16 years old and remember the coffin was incredibly heavy. I was so upset about CKC being at the funeral that I was terrified about dropping mum's cofifn. Believing that mum had reported to Bishop Shevill before she died, it upset me greatly that the church degraded our family by allowing CKC to officiate her funeral, knowing what CKC had done to me,"


CKA said he worked with Father Arthur Bridge at a youth service.

CKA said he spoke with Bishop Richard Appleby in 1984 about Bridge, and named Peter Rushton, James Brown and another priest as child sex abusers.

The commission heard that CKA told Bishop Appleby he would look into it, but nothing eventuated from that meeting and CKA never heard back from the church.

CKA said CKC was promoted rather than the church taking action against him.

CKA spoke with Catholic priest Bob Searle who gave him a brochure with information about the Anglican Church’s confidential help line for people suffering sexual abuse.

Former Newcastle assistant bishop Richard Appleby.

Former Newcastle assistant bishop Richard Appleby.

When he rang the help line Dean Graeme Lawrence answered. CKA said that at this time he knew nothing about the allegations of child sexual abuse against Lawrence which ultimately led to his defrocking.

Father Searle told CKA to stay away from Lawrence because “he’s one of the bad guys”.

Lawrence took another call from CKA but nothing happened.

"I was ringing the church's sexual abuse helpline, not the church's paedophile helpline,"


CKA reported the abuse to police again.

CKA said that as a result, he only reported the last incident of abuse by CKC to police at that time.

“I limited my disclosure because I felt unable to cope emotionally with the full extent of the abuse. I also thought that reporting one incident would be enough to obtain justice, but I was wrong,” he told the commission.

CKA said he regretted not speaking earlier because CKC also sexually abused his younger brother.

“I don’t expect lay people to understand the power of the church and the fear this instilled in me about speaking out against its clergy. At this time I felt very ashamed and embarrassed about the extent of CKC’s abuse,"


CKA is now about to speak about the criminal proceedings once CKC was charged. CKC was represented in the criminal proceedings by Paul Rosser, QC and Keith Allen.

I later learnt they both had close ties to the church. Rosser was deputy chancellor to the diocese and Allen was a trustee of church property.

CKA told the commission that during the proceedings, he was disturbed that the church had given CKC’s legal team records of his confidential call to the church’s help line to use against him in court.

"I was not aware that he had also molested my little brother at the rectory. I would have tried to prevent it. I have to live with that,"


Peter Mitchell was in the court supporting CKC.

Part way through the trial a church register was produced by CKC’s defence who asserted that it contradicted my evidence by giving CKC an alibi.

"I think it is unconscionable that they could defend an alleged perpetrator of child sexual abuse while holding positions in the church,"


The DPP withdrew the charges.

CKA continued to tell the commission that Bishop Herft released a statement on behalf of the diocese incorrectly informing the public that CKC had been acquitted of all charges.

“This upset me greatly because it prompted a common misunderstanding amongst the community that CKC had been acquitted, when he wasn’t,” the commission heard.

In 2001 CKA received a letter from former registrar Peter Mitchell in response to CKA’s complaint about the use of his confidential call to Lawrence against him in court. Mitchell said because the conversations with Lawrence were not conducted in a confessional situation, they were not privileged and could be used.

“When the trial fell over I felt completely betrayed and let down by the legal system. I walked out of the court only to see Rosser and others laughing at me and my brother,”


In 2004 CKA contacted Herft. CKA told Herft he wanted to know that CKC could not work as a priest.

Herft gave him his word that would happen, CKA said.

CKA told the commission that contrary to Bishop Herft’s assurance, he did not believe that CKC’s licence was ever revoked.

CKA continued to tell the commission that somehow the church had managed to turn a “so-called healing service” into an “abusive process” as well.

CKA was referred to a psychologist Sandra Smith. CKA said he cannot remember who referred him “but I think it was most likely the church”.

“I recently discovered in conversation with Michael Elliott that Sandra Smith is married to Keith Allen who previously acted as solicitor for the diocese.”

"In February 2008, I was offered a healing service by the Chair of Professional Standards Committee, Gwen Vale. I was told that Bishop Herft, Dean Graeme Lawrence and John Cleary would be attending. I agreed to go because it was my expectation that I would receive an apology. After travelling 250 kilometers I was told that Bishop Herft, Lawrence and Cleary were no longer coming and I received a healing candle instead,"


CKA received a formal and public apology from Bishop Brian Farran in 2010. In 2012 CKA received another payment of $75,000 from the church.

CKA is taking his time before talking about the impact of abuse and the response of the church.

“While the abuse was horrendous, at least it’s over. It is the impact of the church’s response that is ongoing. I cannot get over the sheer frustration of dealing with bishops and clergy who I believe knew full well what CKC was doing, and yet did nothing,” CKA told the commission.

"They can never pay me enough for what I could have been had CKC not abused me,"


“I try to act strong and tough, like nothing bothers me, but I feel anything but strong.”

CKA said his relationship with his younger brother has never recovered since the court trial.

"I found the process of dealing with the church as abusive as the sexual abuse itself,"


CKA has made recommendations to the commission. He said that there needed to be systems in place to ensure that all allegations are investigated and that this should not be a selective process.

CKA told the commission that the church should be subject to the same rules as the rest of society, regardless of what they believe their standing is within the community.

“I was made to feel that the offences against me were worthless, because I was a boy abused by a priest who was protected by the church. I was also left with the impression that my life was worth nothing to the church,” CKA told the commission.

"I have lost count how many times I have been threatened by people in the dioceses. I've had nails put in my tyres, my car windows broken and have received numerous death threats directed towards myself, my children and my grandchildren. I had an elderly woman who was involved with the church, spit on me and say 'you're nothing but a troublemaker,'"


“If we just sit back and leave systems in place which allow children to be abused then we as a society should be dreadfully ashamed,” CKA continued to tell the commission.

He encouraged all victims to speak up.

Former Archdeacon in the Diocese of Newcastle Colvin Ford gives his evidence


"This is the opportunity I have waited years for...40 odd years,"


Barrister Mr Harper, appearing for defrocked Anglican priest Bruce Hoare.

Mr Harper said he is not challenging Ford’s perception of Bruce Hoare as a member of the “gang of three”, but “what I would like to do is ask you some questions to see if it can be justified”.

Ford told the commission he didn’t think they [the gang of three] set about to do protect Rushton, but on many occasions they did.

Harper: “You don’t allege that they conspired as a group of three for that to occur?”

Harper went further to ask “They didn’t set out to protect Rushton…?”

Barrister Mr Harper, appearing for defrocked Anglican priest Bruce Hoare.

Barrister Mr Harper, appearing for defrocked Anglican priest Bruce Hoare.

Ford: “I don’t see any evidence that they went off and met, we’re going to protect Rushton today, but it just happened.”

Ford was archdeacon of Upper Hunter while Rushton was archdeacon of Maitland and Hoare was archdeacon of Newcastle. He told the commission he didn’t have as much clout as the others because he was more distant and did not meet regularly with them.

He described the three men as “like a bloc” that voted together “when they felt the need”.

Ford was asked why he didn’t go to the bishop about the innuendo about Rushton.

Colvin talks about the "gang of three"

He said he went to the bishop over the videos and material found at Rushton’s in 1998 because it was something more concrete.

“I guess I’d have to say nothing would have prevented me from raising things because bishop Roger was a very approachable bishop and we certainly worked cooperatively in many, many thing but yes, these guys were just a fact of life,” Ford told the commission.

He continues to refer to the “gang of three” as a “power structure”.

There was nothing to stop me, but I was a man and I just battled on with that. These people had a bloc that they used and it just a fact that it was there and you worked around that as best you could,”


Harper to Ford: “Can I suggest to you that Bruce Hoare was never at any stage part of a group of three that intentionally protected Rushton from his activities that you perceived through hearing things throughout the community, namely sexual abuse?”

Ford told the commission that he did not know of sexual abuse in the early days. He continued to say that the rumours were happening before any of the information became public.

Ford said he did not agree that Hoare was unaware “what Rushton was up to”, but he had no knowledge of what Hoare knew about Rushton’s activities.


“The rumours of house parties and having young people around all the time did not automatically, in those days, compute to me as paedophilic activity, so I still stand by the statement,"


Barrister Healy on behalf of Archbishop Herft is now questioning Ford. he asked about information heard from Father Simpson to Biship Herft. Ford says he had no knowledge of that information.


Mr Alexis, barrister for Newcastle Anglican diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott is questioning Mr Ford.

He asked Ford questions about a letter he wrote to Bishop Herft in 1998 in which he reminded the bishop that possession of child pornography was “a chargeable offence”.

Mr Alexis has asked whether Ford ever saw the written statements of the removalist men, and he replied no.

“Jim (Jackson, the HR manager) would have gone ahead and got them, but they were not passed on to me. If anything, they were passed on to Bishop Roger.”

Ford’s letter to Herft noted the men had embellished their story and there was “NO CHILD PORNOGRAPHY”, but there was explicit homosexual pornography.

Mr Alexis, barrister for Newcastle Anglican diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott

Mr Alexis, barrister for Newcastle Anglican diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott

Ford: “It was Father David Simpson who told me later, as he was destroying materials, that there was child pornography in the collection.”

Mr Ford continued to say that David Simpson was making the point that there actually were a huge number of them, including child pornography.

A statement from John Farragher is referred to. Mr Farragher is the founder of Farragher removalists. 

Mr Jackson was Farragher’s HR manager. 

"I think Father Rushon lied about the number of videos he had,"

Mr Ford.

The statement refers to an agreement reached that the church remove the child pornography before the move continued. 

In his statement, Farragher says that this was done and his employees returned the next day to complete the move although it was a different moving crew.

However, Ford says he had no knowledge of the agreement and had not seen the statement before.


The third day of hearings has started.

The first witness is Colvin Ford, former Archdeacon in the Diocese of Newcastle.

Retired Archdeacon Colvin Ford studied at Morpeth College between 1969 and 1971 and was ordained in 1972. He became Archdeacon of the Upper Hunter in 1992.

Archdeacons had a leadership role, but Ford has told the royal commission they didn’t really have a lot of say.

Ford was archdeacon under Bishop Holland and Bishop Roger Herft.

Reverend Colvin Ford. Picture: Simone DePeak

Reverend Colvin Ford. Picture: Simone DePeak

Ford is expected to be an interesting witness.

“I tried to avoid him [Peter Rushton] as much as I could. He was often rude and would make rude comments and frequently use double entendres when he spoke. He had a quick tongue and would silence anyone that tried to argue or remonstrate with him with a sharp retort,” Ford said.

Mr Ford says Rushton was well protected by a “gang of three” which included Dean Graeme Lawrence, archdeacon Bruce Hoare and Peter Mitchell. He says they were a dominant group.

Ford is talking about what it was like to deal with the “gang of three” - Graeme Lawrence, Bruce Hoare and Peter Mitchell.

"His [Peter Rushton] rudeness, sharp tongue and gayness were well known in the Diocese of Newcastle,"

Rev Ford.

He is talking about “meetings within meetings” in the diocese, involving the protection of Peter Rushton.

On November 1998 Ford received a call from Jim Jackson, the HR manager, who was “clearly distressed”. He was packing up Rushton’s belongings and the removalists found homosexual pornographic magazines, a bag of videos, posters and a book of what they described as child pornography.

Ford said he rang Bishop Herft about the material, and told him the men had been instructed to pack the material.

"I thought they were protecting Peter,"

Mr Ford.

Ford said Bishop Herft consulted with lawyer Robert Caddies and he was asked to write down what had happened. Later that day there was a meeting between Ford, Herft and Rushton. Rushton was furious.

"Our men were no angels, but they were shocked by the material,"

Mr Ford.

“Bishop Herft came out of his office. Bishop Beal, a retired bishop, was also present,” Ford told the hearing.

Ford told the commission that Herft asked me to contact Jim Jackson to obtain statements from the men.

The men who did the removals told Jim there was no child pornography, and this was conveyed to Ford. The men did not want to finish the removal and Jim Jackson said they did not want to take it further.

Ford said he documented the matter.

Ford continued to tell the commission that on Tuesday, December 1, 1998 he spoke with Jim Jackson again. He had spoken with the three men involved in the removal. During the conversation, Ford was told they had found six to eight videos in a bag in the laundry with covers indicating explicit gay sexual activities. They also found lubricants and condoms.

"I felt as if I had daggers in my back after my conversation with Rushton,"

Mr Ford.

Ford said he did not see the material himself.

Ford has told the royal commission that Herft sent Rushton for spiritual guidance.

Ford said Father David Simpson was asked by Rushton to dispose of the material.

“David told me there were hundreds of videos and that he burnt them in the backyard of the rectory.”

Ford said Dyer’s evidence that he, Ford, had disposed of the material was not true.

Colvin Ford giving evidence on day three of the commission in Newcastle.

Colvin Ford giving evidence on day three of the commission in Newcastle.

“I think Roger might have misheard me,” Ford said.

Ford said he did not know why the late Father Simpson destroyed the material. Rushton and Simpson were in the same year in college. Ford said he was aware that some people at the parish loved Rushton, and some families in the area sent their boys to board with Rushton.

Ford says Herft should have defrocked Rushton after the pornography incident, and he was disturbed when told Rushton’s ashes were interred at St Lukes.

Ford said he had no awareness of priests at Morpeth having a predilection for boys.  He told the commission: “I discovered some men who were homosexual.”


"I wish I had known earlier what Rushton was doing,"

Mr Ford.

Welcome to day three of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in the Newcastle Anglican diocese. Joanne McCarthy and Dominica Sanda will continue the live blog from the commission, with Ian Kirkwood and Joanne McCarthy publishing stories throughout the day.

Today we are expected to hear from former Archdeacon in the Diocese of Newcastle Colvin Ford, child sexual abuse survivor CKA, family member of a survivor CKL and Former Assistant Bishop of Newcastle Richard Appleby.

You can follow and get involved with the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #shinethelight.

Day two wrap up

  • Pamela Wilson was a Wallsend parishioner who was made aware of Father Peter Rushton’s sexual abuse of a young boy. Bishop Alfred Holland was made aware of the matter, she told the commission that Holland said it was all lies and that Rushton would never do such a thing. Holland does not recall having this conversation.
  • Reverend Roger Dyer gave evidence about his time at the parish, he spoke out publically about the child sexual abuse including at the Synod in 2010. He brought a motion without notice and requested the diocese accept the negative impact of sexual abuse allegations upon the work of the ministry in that diocese. He told the commission there were attempts to stop him from speaking at the Synod by Paul Rosser, David Battrick, Christopher Bird and Stephen Pullen, archdeacon of Newcastle. 
  • Bishop Holland confirmed he had no knowledge of the child sexual abuse criminal proceedings against Stephen Gray during his time as Newcastle Diocese bishop. Bishop Holland was questioned about a character reference he produced for Stephen Gray to help him move on in life. 
This story Live coverage: Day three of the Newcastle child sexual abuse royal commission first appeared on Newcastle Herald.