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Pell accuser stands by his claim

The Melbourne man who has accused Sydney's Catholic archbishop, George Pell, of sexual assault stands by his complaint and will co-operate with the private church inquiry into the allegations, his legal spokesman announced yesterday.

Peter Ward, acting on behalf of the complainant, said his client had decided to go ahead with the inquiry after the Melbourne legal firm Galbally & O'Bryan, of which Mr Ward is a partner, agreed over the weekend to handle the case pro bono. Michael Tovey, QC, and Howard Mason, barristers acting for the complainant, had also agreed to waive their fees, Mr Ward said.

"A lopsided inquiry wouldn't have brought an effective result ... it would have been one-sided and appeared tainted," he said. "I think both parties will benefit by this decision."

The Catholic Church confirmed last week that it would not cover the inquiry's legal expenses incurred by Dr Pell or his accuser, who claims the archbishop, then a trainee priest, sexually assaulted him as a 12-year-old altar boy at a Victorian church camp in 1961. Dr Pell has denied the allegations and remains on leave from his post until the inquiry is finished.

It is understood that Dr Pell has now secured legal representation from a Melbourne QC, Jeffrey Sher, after another QC, Michael Rozenes, decided last week not to accept the brief. Mr Sher has extensive experience in the sphere of white-collar crime, corporate negligence and media law.

The closed church inquiry, to be chaired by a retired Victorian Supreme Court judge, Alec Southwell, is expected to start in Melbourne on 30 September.

Pell defence swaps QCs (The Age)
Legal lifeline for Pell accuser (AAP)
Pell's accuser weighs up his options (9/9/02)
Terms of Reference Releases for Pell Enquiry (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Sydney Morning Herald

10 Sep 2002