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

Defrocked former Newcastle Dean Graeme Lawrence
Defrocked former Newcastle Dean Graeme Lawrence

Tuesday, August 9

Day six wrap up:

  • Solicitor and former Newcastle Anglican trustee Keith Allen concluded giving evidence after being in the witness box for nearly three days. 
  • Allen denied “fixing” a statement that has wife, psychiatrist Sandra Smith, gave to the Royal Commission.
  • Child sex abuse survivor CKH gave evidence, he told the commission that priest Andrew Duncan first had sex with him when he was 14, in 1980, when Duncan came on a holiday with CKH’s family on a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River.
  • CKH said he believed rector of the church at the time, Graeme Lawrence knew of the sexual activity by 1980.
  • CKH told the royal commission Lawrence came to his family home in 1981, put CKH’s hand on Lawrence’s erect penis, and told him he could “have that any time”.

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

4.29pm

Justice McClellan has just advised the the hearing that the first two days of the Hunter Catholic public hearing starting on August 29 will be given over to the Anglican hearing.

“”I suspect it won’t finish in that time. If it doesn’t finish in that time we’ll have to adjourn it to Sydney.”

The hearing has finished for the day.

3.35pm

Survivor known as CKH is giving evidence.

CKH became a member of St Alban’s Anglican Church at Griffith at the age of 14. He is now 51.

Graeme Lawrence was rector of the church and remained until 1983.

In 1979 Andrew Duncan came to Griffith as a deacon, along with Graeme Sturt. The three men later became priests in Newcastle Anglican diocese.

CKH said Duncan first had sex with him when he was 14, in 1980, when Duncan came on a holiday with CKH’s family on a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River.

CKH said he believed Lawrence knew of the sexual activity by 1980.

CKH has told the royal commission Lawrence came to his family home in 1981, put CKH’s hand on Lawrence’s erect penis, and told him he could “have that any time”.

In 1982 when CKH was 17, Andrew Duncan attempted to have sexual intercourse with him, while his parents were overseas. “I felt out of my depth,” he said.

He said Lawrence and Lawrence’s partner Greg Goyette had three-way sex with CKH in 1982 at Lawrence’s rectory.

In 1984 at Narranderra, when CKH was considering the priesthood, he attended a clergy conference where Lawrence, Andrew Duncan, Graeme Sturt and Bruce Hoare were there. They ended up in a hotel room, along with CKH’s friend who “passed out drunk”.

“Lawrence and Hoare started having sex with me,” CKH said.

CKH said his sexual activity with Andrew Duncan, Graeme Lawrence and Greg Goyette ended in 1985.

CKH: “There were various incidents that happened in my life that made me recognise that in some ways I would say now I had been duped and I began to realise that these sexual activities that I thought I had been in control of or party to were, in fact, in the nature of abuse and I began to take on that descriptor to describe my experience as a child.”

CKH has said he had conversations with family and friends over the years about whether to report to the church or police.

He said he took action in 2009 after Lawrence took up a locum’s position in his parents’ diocese in Wangaratta.

CKH: “I could not fathom Lawrence’s audacity and arrogance to think he would impose himself on my parents as though he simply expected us to keep silence about what he had done to me and how he had betrayed the trust my parents had placed in him.”

I could not fathom Lawrence’s audacity and arrogance to think he would impose himself on my parents as though he simply expected us to keep silence about what he had done to me and how he had betrayed the trust my parents had placed in him.

Child sex survivor CKH

CKH was worried about other victims of Lawrence and the others, but in the early stages he did not want to go to the police.

CKH: “On 1 October 2009 I finalised a typed nine-page document which outlined the sexual abuse upon me and also a separate complaint in relation to each of Duncan, Lawrence, Goyette, Sturt and Hoare. I sent my complaint to the Anglican Church by email on Saturday, 3 October 2009.

“As soon as Michael Elliott received my complaint, he informed me that the names of Lawrence and Goyette had come up as part of his other investigations and that the police there were aware of this.”

CKH said he was asked to make a complaint to Griffith police at the end of 2009.

CKH: “I was later disappointed to find out that the Griffith police had assigned my case to a junior detective recently recruited to Griffith.

“Some time in 2010 the police told me they would not lay charges. I got the impression that the DPP had knocked the matter back. I found out later that the senior police lawyers had decided not to take the case to the DPP. I was disappointed that they decided there wasn’t enough evidence.”

The case was referred to a church hearing.

“I was worried about facing Lawrence. I consider Lawrence to be intimidating and powerful within the community. He held high positions in the church and was very ambitious. When I found out that he wasn’t turning up I was happy to give evidence in the hearing room. In relation to the hearing itself, it was a very nerve-wracking experience,”

CKH.

CKH said he was happy with the outcome of an unsuccessful NSW Supreme Court appeal by Lawrence and Sturt which found in the church’s favour. Bishop Brian Farran was then left with the professional standards board’s recommendations to defrock Lawrence, Duncan and Hoare.  

CKH has told the royal commission Bishop Brian Farran did not want to defrock Lawrence or Sturt and he put forward an alternative which was to ban them to the end of their working life, which was five years for Sturt, but not defrock them.

CKH: “I had previously made up my own mind that if he didn’t stand by the recommendations I would go to the media. I was calm and quite forceful in my response. I said that his decision was unacceptable and that it undermined the hearing if the board made a recommendation and the bishop didn’t follow it.”

CKH: “He was in tears about the difficulty about his decision and the effect it would have on the parishioners. he was concerned about parish members and their faith and how it would affect them in attending the church.”

CKH: “On September 24, 2012 I received a letter of apology from Bishop Farran by email from his secretary and I appreciated the letter. My memory is that straight after this meeting action was taken to defrock Lawrence, Duncan and Hoare. Goyette was prohibited and Sturt was banned.”

CKH praised all church representatives and its processes. “From the time I approached the church there was no-one in an official position who doubted my story. The reactions I received were shock and horror which I would expect. Everyone I dealt with was supportive in their comments to me.”

CKH: “What astounds me now is that these abusers could believe that it was okay to take responsibility for my sexual awakening and development when they had been entrusted with my pastoral care. It is acutely clear to me now that they having sex with me at that age was clearly very wrong, a gross abuse of trust, selfish and thoughtless.”

CKH is now being cross-examined.

Barrister Philip Massey for Graeme Lawrence put to CKH: “I suggest to you that in fact Mr Lawrence never had a sexual relationship with you in any form. What do you say about that?”

CKH: “No. I have come here to speak the truth. It is the truth and I feel I have been very brave to speak out about what Lawrence did to me.”

The Royal Commission resumes for the afternoon session on day six

3.07pm

Barrister Liz McLaughlin for Peter Stuart is re-examining Keith Allen.

McLaughlin has just asked Allen if he mentioned “damaging videos of sex offenders James Brown, Peter Rushton and others at a meeting with Bishop Peter Stuart.

Bishop Peter Stuart outside Christ Church Cathedral

Bishop Peter Stuart outside Christ Church Cathedral

McLaughlin: “I’m going to suggest to you at the conclusion of the meeting you left Stuart, with the impression that you were aware of the contents of those brown envelopes?”

Allen: “I have never…

McLaughlin: “What do you say about that?”

Allen: “I say that’s untrue. I had never been aware of the facts in the brown envelopes but not the names or the parish or particulars.”

McLaughlin is asking him about a letter Allen sent to Bishop Stuart on February 13, 2013.

It reads: “Dear bishop. Thanks for your letter of 6 February 2013. Can you advise me of position about the other investigations we discussed.”

Barrister Liz McLaughlin for Peter Stuart.

Barrister Liz McLaughlin for Peter Stuart.

McLaughlin: “It says nothing else. I’m going to suggest to you that you received that letter and you simply did not want to participate in the process suggested by Bishop Peter Stuart.”

The meeting was to discuss information “probably going to go to the royal commission”.

McLaughlin: “Are you saying because you thought it was going to go to the royal commission, you declined Stuart’s offer .. and disclose your knowledge as to past practices.?”

Allen: “No, I would not want to cover up any information to the royal commission.”

McLaughlin: “You certainly didn’t assist the diocese, though, did you?”

No, I would not want to cover up any information to the royal commission.

Solicitor Keith Allen

Allen: “The non-response was my way of dealing with the matter and in hindsight I probably didn’t deal with it correctly.”

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp is re-examining Keith Allen.

Sharp: “Your position with the brown envelopes, as they’ve come to be known, is while you discussed them you never were told the name of the parish priest?”

Allen: “Or the perpetrator, if a person wasn’t a priest, yes.”

Sharp: “You were never told the name of the complainant?”

Allen: “No.”

Sharp: “But you did see the brown envelopes?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Sharp: “The point is you saw the brown envelopes.?”

Allen: “I saw brown envelopes.”

Sharp has just produced a copy of one of the envelopes showing the redacted names of the complainants and the respondent priests.

Sharp: “You see the envelope itself revealed, Mr Allen, who the complaint was made against and who the complainer was. Do you agree with that?”

Allen: “No. I don’t. The envelopes I saw were plain brown envelopes.”

Justice McClellan has just questioned Allen about how the registrar would known which envelope to open unless there was at least some identification on the outside.

Allen: “From my memory, the envelopes were gone through one after the other.”

McClellan: “Mr Allen, what you’re saying just doesn’t sound believable.”

Allen: “I am telling you the truth.”

Sharp: “I suggest to you that the envelopes you were shown during your meetings clearly indicated who the complainant was and who the respondant was?”

Allen: “Not to my knowledge. I never saw anything like that.”

Sharp: “I suggest to you that your evidence that you did not discuss either the name of the priest concerned, the name of the parish or the name of the complainant is absolute nonsense.”

Allen: “That’s not true. I adhere – I say that we did not known any names or any parish.”

Allen has just denied any knowledge of a second complaint against Stephen Hatley Gray, who was convicted of raping a 14-year-old while at Wyong parish.

Sharp: “The process followed was that it was reported to Bishop Roger. Bishop Roger we know is a reference to Bishop Herft?”

Bishop Herft.

Bishop Herft.

Allen: “Yes.”

Sharp: “I suggest to you that through the review of your brown envelopes you were well aware that a second complaint had been made of sexual abuse in relation to Gray.”

Allen: “Not to my knowledge.”

Sharp has just called for a reference letter that was raised with Keith Allen on Monday. The letter by Rev David Williams was tendered to the judge in the trial of Stephen Gray.

This is the awful letter that states that Bishop Alfred Holland and the then Bishop of Ballarat, John Hazlewood, “are aware of his (Gray’s) great gifts and they do not regard this offence as necessarily” an obstacle to his future work as a priest.

Allen has ended his evidence.

2.05pm

Mr Keith Allen is being questioned about his earlier evidence relating to his wife Sandra Smith’s statement to the royal commission.

Solicitor Mr Watts: “Can you recall doing or saying anything to your wife in relation to what she should say or her evidence in any way at all?”

Allen: “My memory was that I encouraged my wife to read the statement and to answer the questions that were put to her as precisely as she could.”

Justice McClellan is questioning Mr Allen about a file note written by professional standards director Michael Elliott in January 2013.

Professional standards director Michael Elliott.

Professional standards director Michael Elliott.

The file note reads: “At that meeting Stuart informed me that Keith Allen had been to see him earlier that day and had told him certain things regarding professional standards including: 

  1. That there were 27 brown envelopes on hand in the diocese that contained details of past complaints.
  2. That Allen was part of a group who conducted bi-annual reviews of those complaints. Other members of that review panel were Alf Holland, Graeme Lawrence, Richard Appleby, Robert Caddies and Jim Hellman. They would see if any further information or updates were available in each of the matters. If there was no formal claim being instigated by a complainant the practice was to do nothing with the complaint.

Michael Elliott notes in his file note that: “I advised Stuart that allen’s disclosures regarding inaction on cases of sexual abuse constituted an offence and he needed to report this information to police.”

Justice McClellan: “What Elliott is concerned about is that all of you were given knowledge of alleged sexual abuse but you weren’t telling the police about it, correct?”

Allen: “There was no name and no parish or no particulars provided in relation to each of the envelopes when they were discussed.”

McClellan: “What happened – did these envelopes come into the meeting, were they put on the table? What happened?”

Allen: “My memory is that either Mr Mitchell brought them in or maybe Bishop Herft brought them in. I don’t know who brought them in.”

McClellan: “Did someone open them up?”

Allen: “I think Mr Mitchell opened them up but they weren’t sealed as I understood it, sir.”

McClellan: “Were the papers inside the envelopes taken out and looked at?”

Justice McClellan.

Justice McClellan.

Allen: “Not by all the committee. Only by either the bishop or the registrar.”

McClellan: “You have said on a number of occasions that you were never told the names of anyone, you were never told the parish, but I take it you were told what was alleged to have happened?”

Allen: “The facts or brief facts were disclosed by, in my memory, the registrar, but I may be wrong.”

McClellan: “You’re not telling me these things because you’re concerned that if you disclose that you were told the names and the circumstances then you may have committed an offence, are you?”

Allen: “No, the names and the places or parishes concerned were never disclosed. Had they been disclosed, a different set of circunmtances may happen.”

McClellan: “You’re not telling me or giving me that answer to avoid being charged with a criminal offence, are you?”

Allen: “No. No sir.”

You’re not telling me or giving me that answer to avoid being charged with a criminal offence, are you?

Royal commission chair Justice Peter McClellan

Allen is being questioned about his meetings with John Cleary and Bishop Greg Thompson.

No. No sir.

Solicitor Keith Allen.

Watts: “What was your understanding of your attending those meetings with Mr Cleary. What did you understand the purpose of those meetings was?”

Allen: “To talk about, as I perceived the position of the diocese vis-a-vis the royal commission.”

Watts: “Was it your understanding that Bishop Thompson may not have as complete a background sort of knowledge of matters of the diocese that perhaps you may have had.”

Allen: “That’s correct.”

Watts: “There is a file note that Mr Cleary prepared on 25 August, 2014 which relates to a telephone call that he says he had with you on 21 August.”

Watts: “Mr Cleary’s file note… outlined allegations that yourself and Peter Mitchell were involved with the destruction of diocesan records relating to the CKC matter. Do you understand that?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Watts: “How did that make you feel in relation to what was being alleged against you about destroying diocesan records?”

Allen: “Very uncomfortable.”

Watts is now questioning Allen about a file note by John Cleary dated February 11, 2015.

Watts has just told Mr McClellan that the accuracy of the notes “are obviously a matter in issue”.

Watts has been questioned about whether he ever told Cleary that “CKA is mad”. CKA is one of the victims alleging they were repeatedly sexually assaulted by priest CKC in the 1970s.  

Justice McClellan: “It is in inverted commas again, isn’t it, which suggests that it is exactly the words you used?”

Allen: “I know what the statement says. It’s not a word I would use, sir.”

Watts: “Mr Cleary has recorded that you advised Bishop Greg Thompson neede to ‘get rid of the CKA matter’. Did you ever say that to Mr Cleary?”

Allen: “Not to my knowledge sir.”

John Cleary’s file note refers to Allen talking about a relative by marriage who was a former priest and a “sus” character.

“He liked nude swimming at public beaches”, was “very strange” and after his death Cleary records Allen saying he had to get “rid of his pornography collection”, the note says.

Allen denied what was written in the file note.

Watts is now questioning Keith Allen about his evidence that he destroyed child sex offender priest Stephen Gray’s resignation letter written in February 1990.

Solicitor Keith Allen entering Newcastle Courthouse before giving evidence at the royal commission.

Solicitor Keith Allen entering Newcastle Courthouse before giving evidence at the royal commission.

Watts: “When was it that you destroyed the resignation” letter?

Allen: “As best I can, that must have been fairly shortly after Gray was charged, but not on the day he was charged.”

Watts: “Do you recall now at the time you destroyed that first resignation what you knew about the matter, the allegation or what had gone on that prompted the resignation?”

Allen: “I didn’t, I don’t believe I knew of all the facts except it was a sexual offence and I think the words ‘with an underage boy’ were spoken of.”

Watts: “If Bishop Holland were to act on your advice to de-license Gray, would it then have made any difference when his resignation was dated one way or the other, or not?”

Allen: “Probably not, sir.”

Justice McClellan has intervened to say “That depends on a lot of things.”

Mr Watts has spent the past few minutes going back over Mr Allen’s evidence in relation to matters involving the register in 2001 that was tendered in the case of priest CKC charged with child sex offences against brothers CKA and CKB.

O’Brien continues cross examination of solicitor and former Newcastle Anglican trustee Keith Allen

1.11pm

The commission is breaking for lunch.

Wrap up of day six so far:

  • Solicitor and former Newcastle Anglican trustee Keith Allen continues to be cross examined
  • Allen has been questioned about the register tendered in a court case against priest CKC
  • Allen answered questions about complaints against former Dean Graeme Lawrence and the later attempts to have professional standards director Michael Elliott sacked as the notice of motion was raised by Paul Rosser, QC and seconded by Keith Allen. He confirmed there was a motion but couldn’t provide details.
  • Allen changed his evidence from Monday, that he had no involvement in the drafting of a letter on May 1, 2015 to the Anglican registrar. He now says he drafted the letter.

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

Some reactions on social media:

11.50am

O’Brien resumes questioning about the register tendered in a court case against priest CKC, that led to the court case being no-billed in 2001.

O’Brien: “You had cause in 2001 to examine this particular book, this register of services, in some detail, didn’t you?”

Allen: “I examined that particular page.”

O’Brien: “It appears that, generally speaking, there are very few alterations indeed, is that the case?”

Allen: “Yes.”

O’Brien: “I want to take you to some distinguishing features of this particular page. Before I do, I will just confirm with you that this is the page that proved to be quite fatal to the prosecution of CKC, isn’t it?”

Allen: “It was a factor.”

O’Brien: “There has been a crossing out of two entire entries for April 13 and 20. Do you see that?”

Allen: “I see that.”

O’Brien: “When one examines the book in toto, there doesn’t appear to be any such deletions or corrections, do you see that, or blocking out those sort of dates?”

Allen: “I have three pages and that appears to be the only entries that are scribed through.”

O’Brien is questioning Allen about whether signatures on the register are different. Allen has agreed “they appear to be different, but I’m not an expert on handwriting.”

O’Brien is now questioning him about the third discrepancy “which appears on this page distinctively from the other pages in this book”.

O”Brien: “On a number of occasions it appears that the numbers have been scribbled out and rewritten.”

Allen: “I see that.”

O’Brien: “I want to take you to a fourth discrepancy that is noticeable on this page as compared to other pages in the book. Go down to the last date on the left hand side of the register.”

Allen: “Yes.”

Newcastle Christ Church Cathedral

Newcastle Christ Church Cathedral

O’Brien: “It is out of chronological order, isn’t it?”

Allen: “Yes. It appears the entry after 11 May is not chronologically correct.”

O’Brien: “The next date is 29 April, isn’t it?”

Allen: “yes.”

O’Brien: “A crucial date in the trial of CKC? You see CKA and CKB said they were molested and sexually assaulted by CKC in the weeks after he had gone to this particular parish. So the date 29 April 1975 was a particularly important date for the reasons you can see. It is a crucial date in the trial of CKC. And it is the only date in the pages that you have in front of you. This document, sir, is a forgery, isn’t it?”

Allen: “No. I don’t know that. I don’t know whether it is a fraudulent document or not. I didn’t touch it.”

O’Brien has just put to Allen that he gave a church woman who had the register “a ruse, you have lied to her as to the reason why you were looking at the register”.

Allen: “No, I don’t, I didn’t lie to the particular person who produced the register at all.”

A crucial date in the trial of CKC? You see CKA and CKB said they were molested and sexually assaulted by CKC in the weeks after he had gone to this particular parish. So the date 29 April 1975 was a particularly important date for the reasons you can see. It is a crucial date in the trial of CKC. And it is the only date in the pages that you have in front of you. This document, sir, is a forgery, isn’t it?

Solicitor Peter O'Brien to solicitor Keith Allen

O’Brien has just put to Allen that he went to see the register, for 10 or 15 minutes, on a Friday. The document was produced to the court on the following Monday, and a no-bill in the case was filed on Tuesday.

No. I don’t know that. I don’t know whether it is a fraudulent document or not. I didn’t touch it.

Keith Allen

O’Brien: “If COH (the church woman who had the register) is correct, the register was in someone else’s possession, probably yours, between the Friday and the Monday when the trial began?”

Allen: “It wasn’t in my possession.”

O’Brien: “What about Mr Mitchell. Did he have it?”

Allen: “I don’t know what Mr Mitchell had.”

O’Brien is now being questioned about Mr Cleary’s file note of a discussion with Allen on March 27, 2015.

Cleary noted: “When asked about the CKC matter, you advised that CKC now holds the file as you had given it to him”.

O’Brien: “I want to suggest to you that you have done everything possible to avoid handing over the CKC file to investigative authorities within the church?”

Allen: “I don’t think I was ever asked for it.”

O’Brien: “I am suggesting Mr Cleary was asking for it on that date, March 26, 2015, and you said you didn’t have it.”

Allen: “My memory is that I don’t specifically remember what Mr Cleary said, but that is not memory’s record of this file and it was a file that came into existence in criminal proceedings and may have been privileged.”

O’Brien: “I want to suggest to you, sir, that the reason why you held on to CKC’s file is because you were conscious that you had actively and fraudulently produced material within the trial of CKC to protect him?”

Allen: “That is totally incorrect.”

Allen is now being questioned by barrister McLaughlin for Bishop Peter Stuart about a diocesan council of March, 2013 which considered a new conflict of interest policy.

McLaughlin: “It is of some significance that for the first time ever a written policy for conflict of interest was presented to the diocesan council?”

I want to suggest to you sir that the reason why you held on to CKC’s file is because you were conscious that you had actively and fraudulently produced material within the trial of CKC to protect him?

Solicitor Peter O'Brien to solicitor Keith Allen

Allen: “Yes.”

O’Brien is now questioning Allen about articles in the Newcastle Herald and the Australian about the church's handling of certain child sexual abuse matters in the past and a diocesan council meeting at that time.

That is totally incorrect.

Keith Allen

The articles related to a police strikeforce established to investigate matters in Newcastle Anglican diocese including the case of CKC.

Allen is being questioned about Bishop Peter Stuart and his opinion that Allen had a conflict of interest and should not attend the meeting.

McLaughlin: “You decided it wasn’t a conflict of interest?”

Allen: “I decided that I would not be disqualified by Bishop Stuart, the administrator, out the back door of the meeting. I wanted the diocesan council to say I should go, and they did, and I left.”

It was a unanimous decision, the royal commission has been told.

McLaughlin: “Would you accept that the various instances I have referred to – indicate that the church had taken a change in its attitude towards conflicts of interest and transparency? And you were not supportive or in line with that change?”

Allen: “I was supportive of the process but I don’t think it was on my radar in respect of CKC that I should reconsider my position.”

Keith Allen questioned by barrister Mr Booth for Paul Rosser, QC

The Crown case in the trial of CKC for child sex offences started on September 11, 2001.

Bishop Peter Stuart

Bishop Peter Stuart

The register was produced and the Director of Public Prosecutions ordered no further proceedings the following day.

Booth is now questioning him about complaints against former Dean Graeme Lawrence in October 2009, and later attempts to have professional standards director Michael Elliott sacked. The notice of motion was raised by Paul Rosser, QC and seconded by Keith Allen.

Booth: “Are you absolutely sure, going back now what is seven years, that there ever was a notice of motion to have Mr Elliott sacked or, in your words, terminated ? Are you absolutely sure of that?”

Allen: “My memory is there was a motion. I can’t give you the terms of it and that Mr Rosser moved the motion.”

Booth is now questioning Allen about professional standards and the view of the diocesan council that there were problems with professional standards. Booth is reporting what Bishop Peter Stuart wrote in a statement: “The policy-making processes in the diocese of Newcastle in respect of professional standards’ matters may have been influenced by the commentary and views expressed by some of the members of the synod, diocesan council and clergy to the effect that professional standards processes in the diocese had at times lacked procedural fairness.”

Justice Peter McClellan is questioning Keith Allen about professional standards cases involving a number of Newcastle Anglican priests after a professional standards policy was put in place.

Allen has written names of people subject to professional standards action by the diocese – Bruce Hoare, John Gumbley and Graeme Sturt, plus another priest known only by a pseudonym.

Booth is questioning Allen about professional standards action against John Gumbley and the costs to the diocese. Mr Rosser said investigating costs of $34,000 were paid by the diocese.

Rosser also raised the issue of Gumbley’s private computer being accessed.

Booth: “Rosser’s concerns seemed to be costs, use of stolen material – in itself a criminal offence – obtaining legal advice from inappropriate source or sources, and Mr Elliott acting outside the power that his office had. That seems to be what he’s trying to say in the explanatory note attached to his notice of motion which clearly was put before the diocesan council, correct?”

Allen: “Yes.”

Booth: “Now, not one of those matters deals with, or suggests that, Mr Rosser was upset that Elliott was ‘too hard’ on respondents to matters involving sexual misconduct? There’s nothing in that document that would suggest that was on Mr Rosser’s mind, does it?”

Allen: “That’s what the document says.”

Booth said Rosser withdrew the notice of motion in May 2010.

Booth is now questioning Allen about a diocesan council meeting in August 2010 where the legal costs of a priest known as COJ - the subject of misconduct proceedings relating to adult women – were discussed.

Booth: “These costs for COJ were paid, I suggest, because Mr Elliott had told COJ if he pleads guilty to the charges – which involved adult complainants, as did Mr Gumbley, let’s make that clear – adult complainants, then he would get his costs paid.”

O’Brien cross examines Allen

11.06am

Solicitor Peter O’Brien is cross examining Keith Allen on behalf of child sex victims CKA and CKB who alleged they were sexually abused by Newcastle Anglican diocese priest CKC.

CKA gave evidence that he phoned the diocese hotline in 1999 and it was staffed by Dean Graeme Lawrence. He told him of abuse by CKC. He said he was going to go to the police.

Lawrence notified Herft within days of the call.

Bishop Richard Appleby has already given evidence to say Allen called him about it.

O’Brien: “I suggest to you that you were well armed with knowledge what was was going to come… and you were preparing to defend CKC well before he was charged.”

Allen: “Not my recollection.”

O’Brien: “You are saying Appleby is not telling the truth?”

Allen said he wasn’t saying Appleby was telling truths or untruths but he could only rely on his memory.

O’Brien is now questioning Allen about details on a subpoena, and especially the dates. Dates on an indictment “are completely irrelevant to the indictment as it was then framed, aren’t they?”

Allen: “They appear to be.”

O’Brien: “I will ask you to have a look at that figure there, 1978. It looks like it has been changed, doesn’t it?”

Allen: “I can’t determine that.”

O’Brien: “I suggest to you that it appears that the subpoena has been altered since it was drafted by you in 2001, what do you say about that?”

Allen: “I say that I would have had the subpoena typed and not touched and if there was to be an error in it, I would have had it retyped.”

O’Brien: “Understand me, I am not suggesting it was you. I am suggesting the subpoena was altered some time prior to being issued and some time prior to it being produced to this royal commission.”

Allen: “I don’t necessarily agree.”

Barrister Healy for Bishop Roger Herft, with Bishop Herft in the far left back row of the public hearing at Newcastle Courthouse.

Barrister Healy for Bishop Roger Herft, with Bishop Herft in the far left back row of the public hearing at Newcastle Courthouse.

O’Brien: “You see, there is no logical explanation for a subpoena which calls for a roll of records between 1978 and beyond in relation to your defence of CKC, is there?”

Allen: “I understand what you’re saying. I can’t give a reason with this passage of time.”

O’Brien is now questioning Allen about the register he inspected in 2001 before the trial of CKC.

The hearing has adjourned for the morning tea break.

10.09am

The royal commission has resumed. Mr Allen is being questioned by counsel assisting Naomi Sharp because new material has come forward.

Allen says a “new recollection” has occurred to him overnight.

Allen has just changed his evidence from Monday, that he had no involvement in the drafting of a letter on May 1, 2015 to the Anglican registrar. He now says he drafted the letter.

He is about to be questioned about a letter produced to the royal commission on Monday relating to the file of priest CKM, whose committal hearing ended with a no bill in 2000. The royal commission heard evidence on Monday about how that came about.

The letter is from Allen to Paul Rosser, QC, dated June 12, 2001.

“The other issue that arises in the writer’s mind is that the judge I think appeared for the diocese in an internal trial for breaches of the diocesan order a couple of years ago. Is it an issue that we should raise?” Allen writes.

Allen was asked if the late Judge Coolahan was the judge. He answered yes.

Sharp: “It’s right that you did not at any point raise this question of the judge formerly acting for the diocese with the judge during the course of this criminal prosecution?”

Allen: “I didn’t.”

Sharp: “To your memory Mr Rosser at no point raised this with the judge?”

The other issue that arises in the writer’s mind is that the judge I think appeared for the diocese in an internal trial for breaches of the diocesan order a couple of years ago.

Solicitor Keith Allen writing to Paul Rosser, QC about a judge presiding over a child sex abuse case against a priest.

Allen: “I’m not certain but I don’t think so.”

Allen is now being cross examined by Lachlan Gyles, QC for Bishop Greg Thompson about documents obtained in the case of priest CKM.

Allen: “The documents that the defence team had were all, I think, of public record. But there may have been a perception that we led the defence team have an advantage. Whether that was real or not, I don’t know.”

Gyles: “Do you accept that the impression they may have had that the odds were stacked even more against them than they would have been had you not acted?”

Allen: “I can see what you say about perceptions.”

Gyles: “Can we take it you would support a recommendation by this royal commission of members of the diocesan council and other senior officials, particularly those involved in professional standards matters, not be allowed to act for accused priests in these sorts of matters?”

Allen: “That probably would be advisable sir.”

Gyles asked Allen if it was possible the difference between CKC being convicted or not was because a church representative was involved.

Allen didn’t respond clearly but conceded the victims CKA and CKB appeared “traumatised” after the case against CKM was no billed.

Gyles asked Allen if criticism of the current bishop for his strong stand against the existing culture undermined the church.

Allen: “I think the community should have confidence in the church.”

Barrister Gerace for former diocese registrar Peter Mitchell asked if Allen appeared for Mitchell. He denied it.

Gerace is now asking him about the “brown envelopes”.

Gerace: “Would you agree with the proposition that there was no such committee, but you were in fact identifying persons to whom the bishop might have turned to seek that counsel from time to time?”

Allen: “There wasn’t a committee. There was a group of people that were called together.”

Gerace: “Do you also agree with the proposition that the bishop would have met with some or all from time to time over that 20-year period?”

Allen: “Yes. I don’t know – I can’t remember whether all the persons were present.”

Allen has told the hearing that only the bishop and Mitchell would have known what occurred in each misconduct matter.

Allen has just told the royal commission he can’t remember any discussion taking place between himself and Paul Rosser, QC about whether it was appropriate to have Mitchell providing a character reference for priest CKM, during his trial on child sex allegations in 2000. Mitchell and CKM were good friends.

Justice Peter McClellan is now questioning Allen about a section of a file note by John Cleary from 2014 in which Cleary writes: “Allen advised me that (his wife Sandra) Smith had been at the commission for two days… he advised it was very draining… however he had done his best to ‘fix’ Sandra Smith’s statement”.

McClellan: “Did you tell Mr Cleary that?”

Allen: “I agree that my wife and I had been to a case study by the commission, but I don’t necessarily remember those words being said.”

Former Newcastle Anglican diocese registrar Peter Mitchell convicted of defrauding the diocese of nearly $200,000 in 2002.

Former Newcastle Anglican diocese registrar Peter Mitchell convicted of defrauding the diocese of nearly $200,000 in 2002.

McClellan is now asking about Mr Cleary’s file note in which Cleary has Allen saying he would need to “spend a day with me soon”, that is with Mr Cleary, to discussed a planned strategy with the royal commission.

Allen said he did not remember saying it but wasn’t in a position to deny it.

McClellan: “Did you tell Mr Cleary that you would need to have a chat with him and the bishop to discuss the stragey with the royal commission?”

Allen said there were things he was aware of that Cleary wasn’t aware of.

McClellan has asked Allen if he changed his wife’s statement. Allen has denied it. Asked if he made any changes to it, Allen said: “No, I don’t think so.”

Allen has told the hearing he “may have raised a couple of issues” with his wife as she made her statement.

We have not heard evidence from Sandra Smith so far.

Barrister Healy for Bishop Herft is now questioning Allen.

Allen has said he was not aware that Bishop Roger Herft referred a matter to police.

Healy: “Do you accept in the early part of Bishop  Herft’s time, when he came, there was a committee introduced in 1993 to deal with specifically matters of sexual misconduct?”

Allen: “A committee was formed, I believe.”

Healy: “If there was a specific committee formed within the diocese to deal with those matters, there would be no need for another ad hoc advisory committee to be established would there?”

Bishop Roger Herft

Bishop Roger Herft

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

Healy: “I put it to you that you never attended a meeting where Bishop Herft was present where a matter of child misconduct was raised and that the advice to him was to ‘do nothing’ about that?”

Allen: ‘I don’t think so except that there may have been in the brown envelopes those issues, but I don’t remember.”

Healy is now questioning Allen about a letter in 2002 to Bishop Herft from Jean Sanders, who chaired a sexual misconduct committee.

Healy has asked Allen if a section of the letter referring to storage of records – with the committee chair having a key along with the diocesan secretary/acting registrar – is referring to the “brown envelopes”.

Allen: “I don’t know sir.”

I put it to you that you never attended a meeting where Bishop Herft was present where a matter of child misconduct was raised and that the advice to him was to ‘do nothing’ about that?

Barrister Healy for Bishop Roger Herft

A letter from Herft to Sanders refers to the committee and matters coming before it. Healy has just asked whether the process is “consistent with the law and it is also consistent with what Herft’s approach was in relation to how to deal with matters involving sexual abuse against children”

Allen replied “yes”.

I don’t think so except that there may have been in the brown envelopes those issues, but I don’t remember.

Solicitor Keith Allen in response

Healy: “It is not consistent with Herft adopting a ‘do nothing’ and ‘cover up’ approach, is it?”

Allen: “From September 2003, no.”

Healy is questioning Allen about what Cleary has recorded him saying in his file note, including that disciplining priests “was never on the radar”.

Allen has just said he is not certain that Cleary’s recordings were “correct or incorrect”. He said the bishop kept some things to himself.

It is not consistent with Herft adopting a ‘do nothing’ and ‘cover up’ approach, is it?

Barrister Healy for Bishop Herft

Healy has questioned Allen about whether he really had “the ear of the bishop”, in terms of Bishop Herft, as he agreed he had in evidence last Friday.

Allen has conceded he had no memory of personal meetings with Herft on these matters.

From September 2003, no.

Solicitor Keith Allen

10.00am

Good morning everyone. It’s Joanne McCarthy at Newcastle Courthouse for the sixth day of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse public hearing into Newcastle Anglican diocese.

The hearing will resume in the next few minutes and we are expecting to see solicitor and Newcastle Anglican diocese former trustee Keith Allen – the man with “the ear” of former Newcastle bishops Alfred Holland, Roger Herft and Brian Farran – back in the witness box for final cross-examination after a day of evidence on Monday and a few hours on Friday. It is fair to say it has been a bruising encounter for Allen, who has revealed the existence of “brown envelopes” held by Bishop Herft containing information about diocese misconduct matters. Allen told the commission on Monday that there were 20 or more of such envelopes, and one related to a child sex matter.

After Allen we are expecting to see former diocese registrar Peter Mitchell give evidence. Mitchell was convicted in 2002 of defrauding the diocese of nearly $200,000. The Newcastle Herald reported at the time that Bishop Herft asked for a day of prayers for Mitchell after he was sentenced.

On the way to the hearing this morning I was stopped by a man along Hunter Street. I didn’t know him. He became emotional while talking about the impact this royal commission public hearing is having on him, and particularly Monday’s revelations.

He told me he knew some of the people already named at the hearing. While it was distressing to see how deeply senior church representatives had betrayed the trust of child sexual abuse survivors, churchgoers and the community, the man fully supported the hearings and the work of the royal commission.

As ugly and dispiriting as it is, the work is necessary.

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

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.
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.

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