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

Defrocked Anglican Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence will now give evidence to the public hearing in Newcastle.
Defrocked Anglican Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence will now give evidence to the public hearing in Newcastle.

MONDAY, AUGUST 8

4.25pm

Day five wrap up:

  • The Royal Commission has today heard sensational evidence about a secret filing system of “brown envelopes” used in the Newcastle Anglican church under former Bishop Roger Herft
  • Keith Allen, solicitor and former trustee of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle has admitted tearing up the original 1990 resignation of paedophile priest Stephen Hatley Gray, which was then replaced with one dated the day before Gray was charged with the sexual assault of a 14-year-old boy.
  • The commission heard that Keith Allen thought brought lamingtons to a meeting to discuss the facts relating to Stephen Gray where he was said to have had sex with an underage male on top of a table of lamingtons. Allen denied this.

Ian Kirkwood and Joanne McCarthy wrap up today’s hearing in three minutes.

4.20pm

The royal commission has finished hearing evidence on Monday August 8 – the fifth day of evidence. Keith Allen will continue giving evidence tomorrow.

Barrister Lachlan Gyles, SC, questions Keith Allen for Bishop Greg Thompson

4.00pm

Gyles: “You wrote to Bishop Thomspon and said to him, ‘I propose to stand for any position for which I am nominated in the parish of Terrigal’, didn’t you?”

Allen: “Yes.”

This was despite Bishop Thompson writing to him terminating his positions.

Gyles: “Would you agree with me that the primary role of the church is to provide emotional and pastoral support to parishioners?”

Allen: “It’s probably one of the roles.”

Gyles: “Well, isn’t that what it’s about in the end?’”

Allen: “There is the proclamation of the Gospel.”

Barrister Lachlan Gyles, SC

Barrister Lachlan Gyles, SC

Gyles: “When you met with Bishop Thompson in 2015 he was extremely concenred about you having acted for diocesan priests in criminal matters concerning alleged sexual abuse of parishioners?”

Allen: “He raised the issue.”

Gyles: “And you said to him that you were able to compartmentalise, didn’t you?

Allen: “I may have said that and I may not, but I held the – yes.”

Allen explained it as “My professional practice had nothing to conflict with the church and there was no preclusion on any of the positions I held to prevent me from practising.”

Gyles is questioning Allen about the committal of priest CKC.

Gyles: “You would accept, wouldn’t you, that in such cases, for example in respect of the CKA and CKB complaints, that in order to discharge your ethical obligations to your client, namely CKC, that you needed to cast as much doubt as possible on the credibility of the complainants and the evidence that they were giving in those cases, that’s right, isn’t it?”

Allen: “The role of the lawyers acting for an accused person is to put the accused person’s position as strong as possible and to, I believe, cross examine witnesses and conduct the matter in accordance with the rules.”

Gyles: “As a member of the diocesan council at that time, your obligation was to assist the bishop to bring about the fundamental charter of the church, which is to provide pastoral and emotional support for vulnerable people?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Gyles: “Can I suggest to you that your conduct in taking instructions and acting in the defence of CKc was diametrically opposed to the obligations and responsibilities you had as a member of the diocesan council at the time?”

Allen: “I didn’t hold or consider any view at the time of the proceedings.”

Gyles: “What I am suggesting to you, Mr Allen, is that the signal of you in that case to the person who had come forward which was the church was challenging what he was saying?”

Allen gave a confusing reply. McClellan stepped in and said as a leading figure, Allen was sending a message to child sexual abuse victims that they were lying.

Former Newcastle Anglican diocese trustee Keith Allen gives evidence

2.14pm

The hearing resumes for the Monday afternoon session, with Justice Peter McClellan presiding.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp has resumed questioning Keith Allen.

He is being questioned about a file note by diocese business manager John Cleary after a meeting on March 26, 2015 between Allen, Cleary and Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson.

Sharp: “Cleary record you saying that the biggest concern in the Newcastle diocese was Bishop Roger Herft. He indicated that Herft will be in trouble. This was mainly because of Herft’s handling of the Brown envelopes through Herft’s Brown envelope advisory/review committee”.

Allen: ”There were a number of brown envelopes that I think were held by Mitchell … by way of example, they may be improper conduct. They may be criminal offences, they may be stealing….”

Justice Peter McClellan: “Was it under Bishop Herft’s management that the brown paper envelopes first started to be created?”

Picture: Jeremy Piper

Picture: Jeremy Piper

Allen: “I think so sir.”

McClellan: “I take it the diocese holds other files apart from brown paper envelopes.

Allen: “I would expect so.”

McClellan: “So do I understand the brown paper envelopes were created as a separate, more secret filing system?”

Allen: “Yes.”

McClellan: “So an allegation that a priest had sexually assaulted  a child could be in the Brown envelope, is that right?”

Allen: “There would be information in the brown envelope.”

McClellan: “And that you would advise the bishop that should go to the police?”

Allen: “I think, from memory, certainly on one occasion… that that was the advice that the matter should be taken….

McClellan: “Did you write down the name of the person who was said to have been complained about on that one occasion?”

Allen:” I don’t think I can remember the person’s name.”

McClellan: “How many brown envelopes did you see in your time?”

Allen: “20”.

McClellan has just asked Allen about whether he was aware of concerns the royal commission had not been given all of the information from the diocese, including possibly material in the brown envelopes.

Naomi Sharp: “It was your opinion Herft may well be in trouble about these brown envelopes?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Sharp: “Why?”

McClellan is now questioning Allen about why Herft would be involved in a matter as late as march 2015, and Allen has said the problem is probably also with Bishop Farran.

McClellan: “Well what did you have in mind? What was the problem.”

Allen: “The issues didn’t seem to go anywhere.”

McClellan has asked Allen about a conversation he had with Bishop Greg Thompson.

Thompson wrote to Allen on March 9, 2015 and said: “As one of the few continuing serving members of the diocese from that period you are in a good position to assist me to understand the way professional standards matters were handled prior to the establishment of the professional standards ordinance in 2005. You outlined to me a small number of church officials who would meet to advise the bishop on managing misconduct in the diocese. You referred to these as the sealed brown envelopes that were held in the bishop’s office.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp.

“I understand from our conversation that you may have records and notes of your assistance to various bishops that would be of great assistance. You had said to me at the recent general synod in June 2014 in Adelaide that you had more files on matters of our diocese which were not in diocesan files and matters of which I am not aware.”

John Cleary’s file note of the meeting between Mr Cleary, Mr Allen and Bishop Thompson includes that “Holland’s standard approach was the ‘do nothing approach’” when it came to child sexual abuse allegations to the diocese.

Sharp: “Why did you hold the opinion that Holland’s standard approach was the ‘do nothing approach’?”

Allen: “That was probably a reflection of the times in that Holland dealt with the matters, any matters personally, himself, without any publication or discussion.”

He advised that the biggest concern in the Newcastle diocese at the time was Bishop Roger Herft. He indicated that Herft will be in trouble.

File note of Newcastle Anglican business manager John Cleary

Sharp: “This doesn’t suggest that Holland dealt with things hinmself. This suggests Holland did nothing. That was your opinion, wasn’t it?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Allen is now being questioned about the one case he remembered in which Holland knew, but did nothing, about.

Sharp: “You have named James Brown, but what allegations were made as to Brown’s conduct?”

Allen confirmed Brown was sexually attracted to young boys.

Sharp: “Is it right that, to your knowledge, Holland was aware of an allegation of sexual impropriety on Father Brown’s part towards a child?”

Allen: “yes.”

Sharp has listed Cleary’s report and conclusion of the brown envelopes discussion and a culture of abuse that included: 

“1. Not reporting child sexual abuse matters to the police.

  1. Claims exposure risk was the only concern.
  2. Disciplining the priest was ‘never on the radar in discussions’.
  3. If it was on the radar, Herft would say that ‘it was my domain to discipline clergy and not theirs’
  4. Herft only ever reported one matter to the police. That being the matter of Peter Mitchell defrauding the diocese.”

McClellan: “When you had these discussions about these brown envelopes, do I take it you weren’t given the name of the alleged abusing priest?”

Allen: “Correct.”

Allen has said the committee considering these matters was not given names, parishes, offender’s details.

He did not report matters to the police because he “didn’t have the brown envelopes”.

McClellan: “What advice were you asked to give?”

Allen: “Relying on my memory, what should be done or what should we do, that sort of words.”

McClellan: “If some child was physically assaulted, you were asked what the diocese should do?”

Allen: “Yes.”

McClellan: “On how many times, on how many occasions were there allegations of sexual abuse that came before this ad hoc committee?”

Allen: I don’t know. I can’t remember and I can’t put it any higher than that, sir.”

McClellan: “Did you ever tell the bishop in relation to the allegations of sexual impropriety that the only proper course was to go to the police?>”

Allen: “I don’t think I did, sir, but I don’t think anybody did.”

McClellan: “Do you think you should have.”

“Allen :” In hindsight, yes.”

McClellan: “Were you aware during your tenure on this brown envelope committee that there was a criminal offence if people had reasonable grounds to suspect child abuse and did not report it to the police?”

Allen: “We were all aware of it. There were three lawyers.”

Justice McClellan is questioning Allen about Mr Cleary’s notes that the best approach for the royal commission is to say ‘You have no files or notes and that you can only rely on your memory. This will prevent cross examination by lawyers”

He has been asked if he is following his own advice.

Allen: “I suppose I am.”

Keith Allen is now being questioned about Anglican archives held at the University of Newcastle relating to St John’s College Morpeth and “its history of child sexual abuse”.

Mr Cleary’s notes quote Allen saying “he was particularly concerned that there was information on file at the university relating to (several matters) but there are ‘probably others’ as well”.

The file note goes on to quote Allen saying “the greatest concern to him (in the context of Newcastle’s history of abuse) was Graeme Lawrence and suggested that Lawrence had the most to be concerned about personally with the royal commission and Lawrence, in Allen’s view, had significant information on other clergy which would be of interest. Allen was asked about his friendship with Lawrence. Allen conceded that they are very good friends despite these concerns. Allen seemed very interested to know whether the police would be pursuing Lawrence over the CKH matter”.

Christchurch Cathedral, Newcastle

Christchurch Cathedral, Newcastle

Allen is now being questioned about another section of Cleary’s file note saying “Allen advised that the ‘church had influence over the police’ up until recent years and that often things were dealt with by a ‘wink and a nudge’.”

Cleary’s file note is also recorded saying:

“Allen spoke about applying to the Attorney General’s department for counsel for the royal commission. He then suggested that ‘fixed’ statements from various people could be served on the royal commission and that would then ‘pus us in the driving seat’ as it would ‘reduce the likelihood of cross examination’. However Allen suggested it was important that the diocese cross examine (victim) CKA. Allen also suggested that a way of minimising cross examination by the royal commission was to say that there is no record of information anyway.”

McClellan: “Mr Allen, is that an accurate account of what you had to say?”

McClellan: “He also records that you suggested that a way of minimising cross examination by the commission was to say that there is no record of information anyway. That suggests that you were suggesting that there be some attempt to mislead the commission, doesn’t it?”

Allen: “I don’t, I would never want to mislead the commission.”

Sharp is now questioning Allen about whether he had any concerns the royal commission “might look at the prosecution of CKC”

Allen: “No.”

That suggests that you were suggesting that there be some attempt to mislead the commission, doesn’t it?

Justice Peter McClellan

Mr Cleary’s file note also records Allen saying “Graeme Lawrence would be a focus of the police and the royal commission and that Lawrence would ‘bring others down’.”

Sharp: “What was it about Graeme Lawrence being a focus of the police and the royal commission being a focus of the police and the royal commission that would ‘bring others down’?”

I don’t, I would never want to mislead the commission.

Solicitor Keith Allen

Allen: “They are Mr Cleary’s words. I do not remember those words being spoken. I’m not in a position to deny them.”

Allen has been asked if he understands the connotation of “bring others down”.

Sharp: “Mr Allen, did you say words like this to Mr Cleary?”

Allen: “I probably think words to that or similar to that may, would have been said.”

Sharp: “Mr Allen, you are giving evidence on your oath before the royal commission. Are you aware in any way, shape or form of allegations being made against Graeme Lawrence in relation to sexual improprieties against children excluding the incident that led to his defrocking?”

Allen: “No.”

McClellan is now questioning Allen about the brown envelopes again. 

McClellan: “What was wrong about the management of the brown envelopes?”

Allen: “There should have been openness about the whole of the brown envelopes to those that were there.”

McClellan: “Are you telling the commission that all of you sat there while an allegation came forward and you talked about it and what should be done about it, but none of you ever knew who the allegation was made against?”

Allen: “Correct.”

Mr Cleary’s note also says Allen made a statement about how the panel considering misconduct worked and the panel ‘self determined’ whether it would take action or not.

The note says: “I read this to mean that the panel itself, rather than the law, determined whether the church should report matters to the police.”

McClellan: “Did you ever tell the bishop that positive action was needed?”

Allen: “I don’t have a recollection of that.”

McClellan: “But you are saying today that your conduct was wrong”

Allen: “I think yes, with hindsight we took a passive approach.”

Allen has just told the royal commission “there was probably no action taken on some matters”.

Sharp: “Do you accept that the diocese during the brown envelope period simply abandoned all responsibility for those of its priests who were alleged to have committed the improprieties considered?”

Allen: “There was probably no action taken on some matters.”

The royal commission is now considering a letter by Bishop Thompson to Allen dated April 2015 dismissing Allen from diocese matters which opens “I continue to have deep concerns about your involvement with the professional standards matters which are subject to a royal commission and police inquiry”.

The royal commission is now considering a move by Paul Rosser and Keith Allen to terminate professional standards director Michael Elliott.

McClellan has just asked Allen why he felt Elliott should be “terminated”?

Allen: “Because there were some who held the contrary view that his time should finish and I thought it needed to be discussed at diocesan council.”

McClellan: “Mr Allen, we have skirted around this, but I want to address it squarely. There has been great controversy in the diocese about sexual abuse matters. There has been great concern about the royal commission coming to investigate the diocese in relation to these matters, hasn’t there?”

McClellan: “There are, as it were, different groups within the diocese who are supporting different personalities in relation to the allegations of sexual abuse, aren’t there?”

Allen: “That’s probably correct, sir.”

McClellan: “There are many who believe that what is necessary in the diocese is for a very serious boil to be lanced, don’t they?”

Allen: “Yes.”

McClellan: “And of course, you have resented the bishop removing you from any office, haven’t you?”

Allen: “Not greatly, if he had asked me to resign, I would have gone, but he didn’t.”

McClellan: “What you sought to defend was, do you accept now, indefensible?”

Allen: “Probably indefensible.”

McClellan: That was because it was a do nothing and a cover up and protect the church approach, wasn’t it?”

Allen: “that was a factor, sir.”

McClellan: “And you were part of that practice, weren’t you?”

Allen: “yes.”

Barrister Mr Alexis for John Cleary and Michael Elliott is now questioning Allen.

Alexis said Allen would be “concerned about Michael Elliott shining a light on these problems before the motion was put for his termination, wasn’t it?”

Allen: “I don’t know.”

Alexis: “You know when Mr Rosser put his motion that you supported by seconding it, that Mr Elliott had been working hard to shine a light on all of the difficulties of the past?”

Newcastle Anglican diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott

Newcastle Anglican diocese professional standards director Michael Elliott

Allen: “Yes, Mr Elliott was the director of professional standards and he was presumably doing his job.”

Mr Allen is now being directed to a file note by John Cleary of an unannounced visit by Allen on March 5, 2013.

Allen said the visit was to discuss professional standards matters, particularly relating to Rev Stephen Gray.

Cleary’s file note says: “Mr Allen advised that he was aware of another event eg where the Rev Gray was quote ‘having sex with an underage male on top of a table with lamingtons on the table’. Mr Allen also recalls advising Mr John Woods (former registrar of the diocese) at the time of this matter and, as Mr John Woods, according to Mr Allen was ‘homophobic’ Mr Allen thought it was amusing to bring some lamingtons to that meeting”.

McClellan: “Mr Allen, I put to you again, as this note records, you brought them because you thought it would be funny to bring lamingtons to a meeting to discuss the facts relating to Gray where he was said to have had sex with an underage male on top of a table of lamingtons on the table also, that’s why you brought them, wasn’t it?”

Allen: “The – no.”

McClellan: “You thought this whole thing was a bit amusing, did you?”

Allen: “No sir. It was a very serious transgression by the late Rev Gray.”

Alexis has just asked more questions about Cleary’s file note from 2013 about Stephen Gray. Cleary has Allen saying: “Rev Gray used to have meetings with groups of young boys under the rail bridge at Wyong around the time Nick Greiner became Premier. Rev Gray, according to Mr Allen, plied the boys with cigarettes and alcohol and quote “things went on" and to this day the police have no knowledge of this matter.”

Allen has denied reporting these stories to the bishop of the day.

Alexis: “What, not during the biannual meetings when the brown envelopes were being reviewed?”

You thought it would be funny to bring lamingtons to a meeting to discuss the facts relating to Gray where he was said to have had sex with an underage male on top of a table of lamingtons.

Justice Peter McClellan

Allen said no. He told the royal commission he heard the stories but did nothing about them.

Mr Cleary’s file note has Allen telling him: “research should be done on Bishop Holland files relating to the parish of Wyong and/or the Rev Gray as there should be plenty of information on these files which would be fairly damning”.

Alexis is now questioning him about the resignation of Stephen Gray and the destruction of his resignation letter.

Alexis: “In relation to any civil claims that arose as a result of that incident, the diocese could deny liability, is that right?”

Allen: “I would have thought not, but that’s my view.”

2.06pm

The royal commission is yet to resume after the luncheon break, but it has released an updated witness list which includes that former Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence will now give evidence to the public hearing.

Defrocked Anglican Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence in 1986 in front of Christchurch Cathedral.

Defrocked Anglican Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence in 1986 in front of Christchurch Cathedral.

Lawrence is listed as witness 27 and is scheduled to give evidence after Archbishop Roger Herft.

The royal commission is still hearing evidence from witness 14, solicitor Keith Allen, and the anticipated two-week hearing looks like it might have to go beyond this Friday, August 12, given the significant witnesses still to give evidence and the likelihod that they will be in the stand for considerable lengths of time.

Former diocese registrar Peter Mitchell is scheduled to give evidence after Mr Allen, and former diocesan solicitor Robert Caddies is listed after Mr Mitchell.

The royal commission is also listed to hear evidence from a new witness – a delivery driver – after the diocese representatives, although it is unknown what he is likely to say.

1.59pm

The royal commission has resumed after the morning break, and a dramatic morning of evidence and cross-examination while solicitor and former Newcastle Anglican diocese trustee Keith Allen is in the witness box.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp is questioning Mr Allen about when he became involved with representing the priest CKC who was charged in August 2000.

Mr Allen is being questioned about a letter dated February 2000 and sent to him by registrar Peter Mitchell.

In the letter Allen has sought information about CKC, when he was licensed and his history. The letter starts “Further to your recent enquiry”.

Sharp: “Why were you inquiring, as at February 17, 2000, about the dates upon which CKC was licensed at various parishes?”

Allen: “I can’t give you an answer for that because I don’t have my file, but there may be entries in my file which has been produced. I don’t know.”

Sharp has just put to him that as of February 17, 2000, Allen was “well aware of the precise dates at which CKC was licensed at particular parishes within the Diocese of Newcastle”.

Keith Allen in the witness box on day five of the royal commission.

Keith Allen in the witness box on day five of the royal commission.

Sharp: “I suggest to you that you were corresponding with Peter Mitchell well before CKC was charged in relation to this matter?”

Allen: “I don’t know. I can’t remember. That’s a long time ago.”

Allen is now being questioned about a subpoena sent to Peter Mitchell, as registrar, by Allen in 2001 in relation to the trial of CKC.

The subpoena requests “any notes, letters, correspondence or copy in possession of the bishop or diocese relating to any complaint of sexual misconduct by any person against (victims) CKA and CKB”.

Sharp has just told Allen to assume that the letter between Peter Mitchell and himself in February 2000, with information about CKC’s history in the diocese, was not produced by the diocese.

Allen has denied having any conversations with anyone in the diocese about whether records meeting the subpoena’s terms existed.

I don’t know. I can’t remember. That’s a long time ago.

Solicitor Keith Allen

Sharp: “If you can  take it from me that what peter Mitchell produced in answer to this subpoena included two file notes that Dean Graeme lawrence had had of telephone conversations with CKC in 1996 and 1999 respectively, can you tell us whether you had any conversations with peter Mitchell about the existence of those documents before you issued this subpoena?”

Allen: “No.”

We are now hearing evidence from Allen about the committal of CKC.

Allen knew, as at the time of the hearing, that CKC was not licensed at the parish at which CKA and CKB said offences occurred, he agreed in answer to questions.

Allen knew because of the information provided by Peter Mitchell in February 2000.

Sharp has just asked Allen why the information was not provided to the DPP until the point that it was.

Allen replied: “I don’t know.”

Sharp: “As defence counsel, of course you are under no obligation to show your hand to the prosecution?”

Allen: “Correct.”

Sharp has just asked Allen if Peter Mitchell would be the natural contact point for the DPP or police to obtain documents?

Allen: “He could be.”

Sharp: “Well, he would be as the registrar, wouldn’t he?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Allen has denied having any discussions with Peter Mitchell about what documents would be produced by the diocese to the DPP or police.

A witness given the pseudonym COH has given evidence she was the person in charge of a parish rectory, and in August 2001 she received a message from Keith Allen.

Allen has agreed he told COH he represented CKC who had been accused of assault. Allen wanted to inspect the register.

Allen and his late wife arrived and were left alone in a room with the register for around 10 to 15 minutes.

Sharp: “How were you aware of the existence of this register?”

Allen: ”I think most Anglican laypeople who have a role or various roles in parishes would be aware of a service register.”

Sharp: “Do you have any view about the appropriateness of a solicitor being left alone with a document and then having that document subsequently produced under a subpoena of the court?”

Allen: “I had neither a biro, a pencil, a rubber or any other thing and I just merely looked at the register on the table. It may be that COH should have remained in the room all the time, I don’t know. I don’t have a view and I didn`t alter or touch the register.”

Allen has just denied that Peter Mitchell had the document before it was provided to the court.

Sharp: “How can you be so certain about that?”

Allen said he was relying on his memory, that Mitchell arrived after COH had given evidence.

I had neither a biro, a pencil, a rubber or any other thing and I just merely looked at the register on the table.

Solicitor Keith Allen

Sharp: “It is correct, isn’t it, that the register assumed some significance in the prosecution?”

 Allen: “The service times I believe were critical.”

I didn`t alter or touch the register.

Solicitor Keith Allen

Sharp: “That is, the service times of the priest that were recorded in the document were critical?”

Allen: “I believe so.”

Allen is now being questioned about the register. Sharp has said for the 4th May listed on the register, there are different times for different church services, and priests are also listed, including CKC.

Sharp: “It was the indication from this document saying CKC was the officiant at different parishes at particular times, that proved very important in seeking CKC’s defence?”

Allen: ‘Yes.”

Sharp: “You are aware of allegations that this register has been tampered with, aren’t you?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Sharp: “Did you in any way tamper with this document?”Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “To your knowledge, did Peter Mitchell in any way tamper with this document?”

Allen: “Not to my knowledge.”

You are aware of allegations that this register has been tampered with, aren’t you?

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp

Sharp: “Do you harbour any suspicions at all that somebody tampered with this document?”

Did you in any way tamper with this document?

Naomi Sharp

Allen: “No.”

A church official has made a statement to the royal commission that he was in the back of a car with Allen and Mitchell. One of them said: “Yeah, it’s funny how those documents went missing”, and then one of them sniggered, the church official, Tim Mawson said.

Allen is now being questioned about a letter sent to victim CKA by Peter Mitchell which said “the church did not in any direct way provide records to CKC’s defence”.

No.

Solicitor Keith Allen

Allen agreed that statement was not correct because Mitchell had provided Allen with information about CKC’s history in the diocese.

Allen is now being questioned about a letter he sent to the then Bishop Roger Herft on April 28, 2003.

Allen has denied having conversations with Herft about the prosecution.

Allen’s letter includes: “The documents subpoenaed from the Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence, the diocese and the parish, in my view, raise other issues that should be of concern to the diocese. The year books of the diocese provide an exact public record which may produce problems in connection with the documents produced under subpoena.”

Allen has been asked to explain what he meant.

Sharp: “Why did you have a concern about the documents that were produced in the CKC matter?”

"One of them said: 'Yeah, it’s funny how those documents went missing', and then one of them sniggered".

Newcastle Anglican official Tim Mawson

Allen: “It is, it was certain issues raised in those documents that came under subpoena.

Allen: “It showed the Dean had been involved in certain matters and had reduced certain matters to writing which .. were in subpoenas.”

Sharp: “Did you have any concerns that any documents at all used in the CKC prosecution had been altered in any way?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “Were you aware, during the course of acting for CKC, that Dean Graeme Lawrence’s office had been contacted by either the police or the DPP about records relating to the times at which CKC served in the parish?”

Dean Graeme Lawrence

Dean Graeme Lawrence

Allen: “No.”

Justice McClellan has just asked Allen if he had ever described Bishop Appleby as “a good operator”?

Allen said he had. “He was a very efficient and, I think, analytical bishop.”

McClellan: “Did you mean to infer that Bishop Appleby was very careful in what he recorded in diocesan files in relation to sexual abuse matters?”

Allen: “No.”

11.30am

The royal commission has just adjourned for the morning break.

10.07am

Solicitor Keith Allen resumes giving evidence

Good morning everyone, it’s Joanne McCarthy at the royal commission and solicitor Keith Allen is in the witness box and being questioned by counsel assisting Naomi Sharp about his involvement with a civil claim.

He is being questioned about a letter written in 2010.

The letter on July 5, 2010 was written to Newcastle Anglican diocese business manager John Cleary.

Mr Allen is now being questioned about a letter in May 2015 from the office of solicitor Michael Daly to Mr Cleary, in relation to a $504,000 settlement offer to a child sexual assault victim. Mr Allen has denied acting for CKM.

Sharp is questioning Allen about a file note by Mr Cleary from February 2015 which carries the heading “Royal commission”.

The note said “Allen is intending to obtain a medical certificate for former Bishop Alfred Holland that he is in no fit state to give evidence to the Royal Commission”.

Allen has denied saying it.

“I’m saying his interpretation on the conversation I think, sir, is wrong.”

Sharp is now questioning Keith Allen about his involvement with Bishop Holland.

Sharp has asked Allen if he at any time told Cleary that he would be advising Bishop Holland to tell the royal commission he couldn’t recall anything.

“Not in the context of Mr Cleary’s transcription,” Allen said.

Solicitor Keith Allen enters Newcastle Courthouse on Friday to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Solicitor Keith Allen enters Newcastle Courthouse on Friday to give evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Justice McClellan has just stepped in.

“Context doesn’t matter. The question is, did you say, as previously advised on some prior occasion that, as Holland’s legal adviser you would be advising him that he cannot recall anything?” said McClellan.

Allen: “Not in those words, sir.”

McClellan: “These words (in the file note) have you saying or that you would advise Holland to say he cannot recall anything. That’s not a question of not giving evidence, that’s telling him  to act dumb.”

Allen: ”No sir.”

Naomi Sharp: “Have you ever suggested to Bishop Holland that he ought not remember things if questioned by the royal commission?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “It sounds, from this file note, that Mr Cleary took, that you had some concerns about Bishop Holland giving evidence to this royal commission?”

Justice McClellan.

Justice McClellan.

Allen: “For people who are in their very senior years, it can be, in my experience, a difficult decision.”

Allen has just denied having concerns that Bishop Holland would give evidence “either unfavourable to him or unfavourable to the diocese”.

Sharp has just started questioning him about how he came to represent Wyong priest Stephen Hatley Gray who was charged with child sex offences in 1990.

Allen can’t remember how he came to represent Gray. Someone rang him, he said. It might have been Gray himself or some other person. He has just told the royal commission it might have been an archdeacon, now dead.

Allen has just told the royal commission how he told Holland he shouldn’t give evidence for Gray because “You would probably be in the Sydney Morning Herald being in favour of homosexual activity”.

Have you ever suggested to Bishop Holland that he ought not remember things if questioned by the royal commission?

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp

Allen has given evidence that Holland was aware that Gray was charged with a child sex offence, which contradicts Holland’s repeated statements to the royal commission last week that he was not aware Gray had been charged with a child sex offence.

Sharp has just asked Allen if it was right that he advised Holland that he would “handle the matter” and Holland need not involved himself with it.

Allen has confirmed that was roughly what he said, in relation to Holland giving evidence in the court.

No

Keith Allen

Allen has denied receiving a police report about the offence on February 12, 1990 where Gray gave a 14-year-old boy alcohol before having sexual intercourse with him, an incident that the police report said was witnessed by a third person.

Sharp is now questioning Allen about a statement of facts tendered to a court in Gray’s case which confirms the offence occurred on February 12, but also notes Gray made a phone call to a solicitor other than Keith Allen.

Gray was convicted and sentenced to a three year good behaviour bond for “anally penetrating a 14-year-old” boy.

Sharp: “In your experience in representing defendants was that a remarkably good result for a charge of this nature?”

Allen: “Probably, yes, or probably generous.”

The indictment has now been put up on the screen for people to see.

The Crown prosecutor is listed as Paul Rosser, QC, who signed the indictment.

Sharp: “Did Mr Rosser appear in this matter on behalf of the Crown?”

Allen: “I don’t think Mr Rosser appeared and I can’t remember who appeared.”

Sharp: “Did you have any dealings with Mr Rosser acting on behalf of the Crown in relation to the prosecution of Stephen Gray?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp has just asked if Mr Rosser held a role with the diocese at the time?

Allen: “I don’t specifically know but Mr Rosser was on the Synod and at some stage was the deputy chancellor and at some stage chancellor.”

Allen has deniede having “any conversations or dealings with the Crown about the appropriate sentencing range for Stephen Gray”.

The royal commission has just had a document put up, a letter to “The presiding judge, Gosford District Court”. It was written by Reverend David Williams and dated September 3, 1990, a few days before Gray was sentenced.

Rev Williams said he was a former senior officer of NSW Probation and Parole. It also says he has been a priest for many years.

In the letter Rev Williams says Stephen Gray had been the subject of three lengthy conversations with several bishops, including Bishop Holland.

The letter incorrectly states Gray resigned “after” the offence. His resignation letter was tendered to the royal commission last week and showed a resignation date one day before the offence.

Rev Williams’ letter includes that Bishop Holland and the Bishop of Ballarat John Hazlewood said both “bishops are aware of his great gifts and they do not regard this offence as necessarily an indelible impediment to his rehabilitation to work as a priest in the future”.

It notes that Gray’s sentence will have a major effect on his ecclesiastical future.

The royal commission is now considering a letter from Keith Allen to Bishop Greg Thompson dated early this year.

In the letter Allen says he “never acted” for the diocese. In the letter Allen says “another priest resigned from a parish in the diocese before being charged and I appeared for him in criminal proceedings”.

Allen says he doesn’t think he’s referring to Gray there. Once he was questioned about who it could be, he now says he “would have thought” it was Gray, by process of elimination. Allen has also represented another priest, known as CKC, who the royal commission heard last week potentially faces further charges.

Sharp is now questioning Allen about former Newcastle assistant bishop Richard Appleby’s evidence to the royal commission last week that he was sent to Wyong parish on February 12, 1990 to get Stephen Gray’s resignation, although his evidence was that he thought the resignation was related to the trashing of the rectory.

Sharp: “Did you at some stage tell Mr Cleary that you had ripped up the original resignation of Stephen Gray?”

Allen: “There was some discussions to the original resignation was inappropriate.”

Justice McClellan: “We can conclude, can we, that the original resignation was destroyed and replaced by another one with an altered date? Can we conclude that you destroyed the original one?”

Allen: “My memory is I may have.”

Current Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson

Current Newcastle Anglican Bishop Greg Thompson

McClellan: “ Just think about it really hard - may have or did you do it?”

Allen: “I think I did it, yes.”

McClellan: “By changing the date, Mr Gray would be provided with an opportunity to go somewhere else. By changing the date what has happened is that a document has been made available which allows a false representation to be made to another diocese, doesn’t it?”

McClellan: “The document on its face is false and will allow a false representation to be made, wouldn’t it?”

Allen: “Yes.”

McClellan: “You were party to the circumstances in which the false document was created, weren’t you?”

Allen: “Yes, I certainly destroyed the first resignation.”

McClellan: “It looks like a fraud, doesn’t it? It is a false representation as to his status?”

Allen: “It could be described as that.”

Asked who requested the resignation date change, Allen said he didn’t.

There was discussion about it. Allen said it might have been the dead archdeacon who led that discussion.

Sharp: “You regard Stephen Gray as a dangerous sexual predator, don’t you?”

Allen: “Yes, he wasn’t the most honourable person I would have thought.”

You were party to the circumstances in which the false document was created, weren’t you?

Royal Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan

Sharp: “You regard him as a dangerous sexual predator, don’t you?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Allen denied knowing of any other allegations against Gray made to the diocese.

Yes, I certainly destroyed the first resignation.

Solicitor and former Anglican diocese trustee Keith Allen

Sharp: “You regarded him as a dangerous sexual predator .. you participated in a ruse as to the date of his resignation to enable him to obtain employment within a different diocese. That’s right, isn’t it?”

Allen: “It may have facilitated his employment.”

Sharp is now putting a series of questions to Allen, and she warned him to “take great care” with them.

She has asked Allen if he was aware former diocese registrar Peter Mitchell was a friend of CKC, a priest charged with child sex offences. He was aware of that. He denied being aware that Mitchell was a beneficiary under CKC’s will.

Allen said he had a friendship with CKC.

Sharp is now questioning Allen about CKC’s charging with child sex offences against two brothers in the 1970s. Allen represented CKC.

Allen has told the royal commission he first acted for CKC after he was charged. He said CKC rang him and asked if he would act for him.

Sharp: “Did you ever give any consideration at the time as to whether you had any conflict in your obligations to the diocese vis-a-vis your obligations to CKC as his legal representative?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “Was that something you now regard as seriously remiss on your part?”

Allen: “The climate in 2000 was different from the climate today and today I think one would have to look seriously at it.”

The royal commission has just had questions raised about whether Paul Rosser appeared robed as a barrister in the case of CKC. Rosser was deputy chancellor at the time.

Sharp: “You were aware that he was not in fact a barrister?”

Former Newcastle Anglican registrar Peter Mitchell.

Former Newcastle Anglican registrar Peter Mitchell.

Allen: “Yes.”

Sharp: “Tell me, was he robed during the trial?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “Are you sure about that?”

Allen: “Positive.”

Sharp: “Was it disclosed to the court that he was not in fact admitted as a barrister at that time?”

Allen: “I don’t know what – I can’t remember what was said to the judge in 2001, but he certainly was not robed.”

Sharp: “Have you had any conversations with Mr Rosser or anyone acting on his behalf in the last few days about the question of whether he was admitted as a barrister at that time?”

Allen: "No.”

Sharp: “At the time you retained Mr Rosser, were you aware that he was the deputy chancellor of the diocese of Newcastle?”

Allen: “Not particularly.” 

Sharp: “Prior to retaining Mr Rosser, did he disclose to you that he had provided Bishop Herft and Dean Graeme Lawrence with advice abvout how to handle the disclosures that had been made by victim CKA in relation to CKC’s alleged abuse?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “Would you have retained him had you known he had provided certain advice to the bishop and the dean?’

Allen: “Probably not, but I don’t know.”

Sharp: “Does it occur to you now that it might not have been a great idea to retain the deputy chancellor of the diocese to act on behalf of CKC in the criminal prosecution?”

Allen: “As at today, yes.”

​Monday, August 8

10.00am

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

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

Day four wrap up

  • Bishop Appleby continued to give evidence, where he continued to say he was unaware of the child sexual abuse allegations during his time in the dioceses.
  • A 32-year-old man (CKU) abused as a minor by trainee priest Ian Barrack has told the royal commission of the way the man groomed him and convinced his mother to trust him.
  • The mother of CKU, CKR gave evidence relating to the abuse of her son by trainee priest Ian Barrack.
  • Solicitor Keith Allen was questioned about an amendment to his statement so that it said Stephen Hatley Gray resigned on February 16 1990 and not an earlier date.
Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Brian Farran will be questioned this week at the royal commission.

Former Newcastle Anglican Bishop Brian Farran will be questioned this week at the royal commission.

This story Live coverage: Day five of the Newcastle child sexual abuse royal commission first appeared on Newcastle Herald.