DCI Peter Fox calls for Royal Commission into paedophilia within the Catholic Church

His open letter to Premier Barry O’Farrell in the Newcastle Herald – OPINION: Don’t block your ears to abuse, Mr Premier

If you missed Fox’s extraordinary interview on Lateline last night, you can catch it on the ABC website (full transcript available).

TONY JONES: This is actually – this is – as horrific as the litany of sexual crimes against children are, to me one of the most disturbing lines in your letter was along these lines: “I can testify from my own experience the Church covers up, silences victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests to protect the good name of the Church.” You’re saying you have evidence of all of this?

PETER FOX: Oh, not only do I have evidence, it’s irrefutable. Most of that is fact that’s been admitted by many of them. We encounter it all the time. For people to sit back and say it’s not going on, they’ve got their head in the sand. The greatest frustration is that there is so much power and organisation behind the scenes that police don’t have the powers to be able to go in and seize documents and have them disclose things to us.

TONY JONES: If things were covered up, if there was serious cover-up, how high up the chain did it go to your sure knowledge?

PETER FOX: I have definite information that – of some covering up certainly to a number of diocese bishops. It potentially goes even higher than that.

TONY JONES: Higher than that? You mean into the top levels of the Church hierarchy, is that what you’re saying?

PETER FOX: That’s correct. I’ve got no doubt. You know, to sit back and sort of say, “Listen, each of these diocese are self-autonomous and there’s no-one above that knows what goes on at those lower levels,” we live in a real world and it would be as if, you know, I’m doing something in the police force at Raymond Terrace and I’m not accountable to somebody else at a higher level at Newcastle or in Sydney.

That’s how the chain-of-command in any organisation works. To turn around and say, “No, we work something different. We didn’t know about that,” I think most of the public are smart enough to be able to put two and two together there.


N.B. The blog has a filter operating somewhere that I can’t reset (maybe my webhost’s servers are part of Senator Conroy’s filter trials) that sends any comments containing the strings “child s*x abuse” or “child s*xual abuse” or “child p*rn” or child “p*rnography” (if typed without those asterisks) into limbo and sends the commentor to an error page. Please use asterisks accordingly if you wish to have an actual discussion about how to address this societal blight.



Categories: ethics & philosophy, law & order, religion, social justice, violence

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15 replies

  1. Just stumbled across this at SBS news site and Facebooked it.
    There is a denialist culture, perverse and stubborn, actually a godless opposition to the very core teachings of the religion. Therefore, Victoria Police have felt moved to make a pointed observation at a government inquiry into it.
    It is a practice not fit for a grub, arrogantly, defiantly, consciously and incredibly irresponsible and delinquent of an adult’s responsibilities and obligations to fellow humans of the most vulnerable kind, children.
    “If so much as as a single hair is harmed, it will not go well for such as these”.
    Amen, here endeth the sermon and sorry it couldn’t have been something positive, like the content of the Beatitudes.

  2. There’s an ex-priest just finished talking on ABC-24 Breakfast about his knowledge of systematic cover-ups of abuse in the Catholic Church in Australia and declaring that it is unfair to other victims that Barry O’Farrell’s announced Special Inquiry is going to be restricted to the cases in Newcastle-Maitland just because those were the ones of which Peter Fox had detailed knowledge.

  3. That could be the bod interviewed on Lattleline last night, has been writing a book on it all.
    I see Hockey and Shorten jumping to the church’s defence, isn’t this a ubiquitous feature when the issue reasserts itself as it does periodically?
    Also the old excuse that it happened in someone else’s diocese so therefore there was nothing the so-called authorities could do about it.

  4. To me, as a non-Catholic, the dynamic of the whole situation says a lot to me about Catholics and their church. Even with the horrific amount of negative publicity about both the primary offenses and the extent of cover-up, the church doesn’t seem particularly worried, from a “marketing” perspective, about how they look to the world.
    In other words, they don’t expect to lose any Catholics, and weren’t expecting to gain any converts anyway.
    (Compare to Penn State, which went into damage control mode, dismissing the president (VC equivalent) and retiring Paterno immediately.)

  5. I generally try to have the chores done and be brushing my teeth by the time Lateline comes on but that time I was doing the nightly doggy physio (leg stretches and heat pack applied to the spine to combat spinal degeneration and back leg paralysis) with the TV still on and I’m very glad I did. The Fantastic Mr Fox has my overwhelming admiration but I’m cringing in anticipation of the underhanded career-crimping actions which I expect to follow from the police establishment.

    • Helen, according to a tweet I saw from him there’s already background muttering about his character and a supposed mental illness.

  6. This is my surprised face..

  7. He really was most impressive but I did think he was a brave man. Life isn’t going to be easy for him from now on.

  8. Well, he got what he wanted. Royal Commission, with wide scope, announced tonight.

  9. If they come for him we’ll just have to make it super obvious how much the public is in his corner. One more great facet of online and social media is the ability to make public support visible.

  10. If they come for him we’ll just have to make it super obvious how much the public is in his corner. One more great facet of online and social media is the ability to make public support visible.

    There’s probably a lot that management could do to make life for him at work difficult without him being able to prove discrimination.
    He has pretty much admitted that his career is over
    http://www.smh.com.au/national/satisfied-whistleblower-weighs-future-in-the-force-20121113-2994l.html
    Hopefully he’ll be able to find a good job outside of the police force.

    • Hopefully he’ll be able to find a good job outside of the police force.

      He seems like the sort of person who would make a mighty fine Ombudsman.

  11. if his career in the force does suffer, perhaps that would be covered by the scope of the royal commission, looking into the response of the police force?

  12. Arcadia, that doesn’t sound useful to me. If the cultural problems in the police survived a royal commission specifically looking into police corruption (Wood) I doubt another royal commission investigating something else is going to fix it. Fox also sounds accepting of his fate, so to speak. I think it’s up to rest of us to support him finding a career elsewhere. That might perhaps shame some within the police enough that change becomes possible.

  13. Arcadia, that doesn’t sound useful to me. If the cultural problems in the police survived a royal commission specifically looking into police corruption (Wood)

    The response is unlikely to be as explicit as corruption anyway, or simply may not be illegal. Eg colleagues may decide to stop socialising with him because he spoke out publicly. Which would not be illegal, but would make life at work pretty difficult for him.
    I wonder perhaps if he could be used as an investigator for the royal commission for matters outside of NSW where he would be giving evidence. Or if it would still be seen as a conflict for him. He’s obviously got a lot of very useful experience in the area.

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