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Pell lawyer steps down amid talk of impropriety

The inquiry set up to investigate allegations of sex abuse levelled against Sydney's Catholic Archbishop, George Pell has suffered a setback with the resignation of Dr Pell's legal representative, Melbourne barrister Michael Rozenes.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Mr Rozenes represented Dr Pell's accuser during the Costigan inquiry into the Ship Painters and Dockers' Union in the early 1980s. But the paper said it is unclear what part, if any, this previous association played in yesterday's developments.

Mr Rozenes told the Herald the Victorian Bar's ethics committee had already ruled in his favour regarding his decision to represent Dr Pell, but declined to comment further.

In another development, the Church has declined a request that it meet the complainant's legal costs in order to facilitate a fair hearing.

"Dr Pell has the finest legal team to represent him at this inquiry," said Peter Ward, a partner with the Melbourne legal firm Galbally & O'Bryan, which is acting on behalf of the complainant. "We are extremely disappointed that the complainant is not being given an equal opportunity to put forward his case adequately."

The Herald indicates that the chairman of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Francis Carroll, is expected to release a statement today.

Meanwhile The Australian newspaper reports that the Sisters of Nazareth wrongly claimed in a document filed in a Queensland court last year that Sister Bernard Mary, the central figure in child abuse allegations at a Brisbane orphanage, was dead. Sr Bernard, who is in her 60s, is very much alive and is now based in Christchurch as head of the Sisters of Nazareth in New Zealand.

It is believed that on 25 July, 2001, the date the document was filed in the Queensland Supreme Court, she was living in London and working as the order's worldwide leader. The false claim was made in a statement of defence by the Trustees of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth, the second defendant in a case lodged by one of five women seeking compensation for alleged abuse at Nazareth House in the Brisbane suburb of Wynnum in the 1950s and 60s.

The order's regional superior, Sr Clare Breen, denied any knowledge of the court document, adding "that's not something we would do".

Pell's QC pulls out of inquiry (The Age)
Forde urges more abuse action (Courier-Mail)
Catholic Weekly 'source' answers Pell abuse enquiry critic (5/9/02)
Terms of Reference - The Pell Enquiry (comment from Catholic lawyer Geoff Cahill)
Church defends abuse investigation process (29/8/02)
Terms of reference released for Pell Inquiry (ACBC)

Sydney Morning Herald/The Australian

6 Sep 2002