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John of God Order condemns tactics of NZ law firm

The St John of God Brothers have criticised a prominent lawyer in Christchurch for intimidating clients over an unpaid $A62,722 legal bill.

Australasian St John of God head Br Peter Burke has hit out at Grant Cameron Associates for suggesting that abuse victims could be liable if the Order did not pay its bill.

"I can't believe this, quite frankly," said Br Burke last night. "To use vulnerable people as decoys I think is intolerable. It's just disgraceful."

Br Burke said the legal bill, which Grant Cameron Associates is suing over, would be paid - as soon as the bank transfer could be cleared.

St John of God has paid $A3.58 million compensation to 56 complainants claiming they were sexually abused as boys at its former Marylands residential school in Christchurch. The order also agreed to pay "reasonable" legal fees for the men who hired lawyers.

Grant Cameron Associates acted for nine men who have received settlements from the order. The bill is for $A62,722.

Mr Cameron said, despite assurances, the order had not come up with the money by its final deadline of late Monday.

"This has been very silly. It has created a culture of mistrust," he said before filing proceedings against the Order for alleged breach of contract. The firm also rang its clients saying that if the money could not be recovered from the order, they may be liable for the bill.


Sex abuse complainant admits lying to get payout (3/7/03)
Priests face extradition over child sex claims (Courier-Mail)
Brothers quizzed on abuse claims (NZ Herald)
Brother suspended over sex claims (5/7/02)
St John of God Brothers to pay out $3.6 million (13/6/02)
Hospitaller Order of St John of God (Australia)

6 Aug 2003