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Employment Commission denies ombudsman investigating Church

The head of the Commission for Employment Relations for the Catholic Church in NSW has issued a statement advising that yesterday's newspaper assertion that the State Ombudsman is investigating the Church and the Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle, was incorrect.

On Wednesday, Yesterday, Fr James Fletcher, a priest of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, was charged in the Maitland Local Court in relation to sexual assault matters. Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph carried a story on page 2 which claimed that the Church and Bishop Michael Malone are the subject of investigation by the NSW Ombudsman.

The Executive Director of the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations Mr Michael McDonald said yesterday that, following discussions with the Ombudsman's Office, he was advised that there is no investigation being carried out into this matter by the NSW Ombudsman at this time.

Mr McDonald stated that the NSW Ombudsman was notified of the allegation against Fr Fletcher and that it is their normal scrutiny of this matter which has been carried out. This does not mean that there is an investigation as claimed by the Daily Telegraph.

Catholic Communications (Sydney)

NSW bishop goes public on priest charged with abuse (15/5/03)
Church sex probe questioned (News Interactive - article referred to in story)
Catholic Commission for Employment Relations

16 May 2003