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    Friday
    Jul112014

    God's little helpers

    Sacrilege - Neil McPhee Room used for VicBar god bothering ... Fr Lucas splashes holy water on lawyers after being told to step down ... Peter Fox supporters point to adverse findings against commissioner ... Phillip Street divorce papers served 

    Bible classes 

    Bible bashing for barristers in the Neil McPhee Room

    AT least half a dozen souls crowded into VicBar's Neil McPhee Room to get the low-down from Richard Wilson, the new chaplain appointed to heal Yarraside barristers. 

    In the process, attendees scored one valuable CPD point. 

    Some unhelpful heathens who ply the briefs' trade don't believe it's a good idea to have bible bashers meddling with those suffering stress and depression. 

    The High Court recently pronounced on this in the chaplains' funding case, saying that chaplaincy is not necessarily a benefit to students. 

    Of course, barristers are not students. 

    Wilson's arrival as the bar's spiritual healer brings into focus the intersection of psychological therapy and pastoral care. 

    VicBar already has a consulting psychologist who offers members six free sessions a year. There is to be some cross-referencing between the psychologist and the bible man, to sort out their respective slices of turf.  

    The bar says that Wilson is available "to offer pastoral care to members seeking to reconcile their personal beliefs with their professional identities". 

    Our inquiries about his appointment reveal that Wilson approached the bar and offered a free three months trial. 

    Thereafter fees will be charged. 

    Chaplain Wilson has an intelligence background in the Department of Foreign Affairs before moving into a business career with IBM and Telstra.  

    From the grave Neil McPhee must be reaching for a strong drink. 

    More Lucas

    Lucas: officiated at mass for lawyers

    TALKING of god-bothering, it's marvellous to see the RC Church still wheeling Fr Brian Lucas about for blessings and masses - specially after he was pilloried by the Cunneen Special Inquiry for turning a blind eye to paedos in the ranks. 

    There he was at St Tommy More's recent patronal mass splashing holy water and smoke at St Mary's crypt in the presence of a pile of Sydney legal types. 

    This was followed by a banquet at which the President of the Conveyancers Club, Ros Everett, spoke about "personal injury law reform and social justice". 

    A week before the patronal mass, former NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell told parliament that Lucas, who is the general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference, should stand down. 

    Fatty criticised the church's lame response to Margaret Cunneen's findings about paedophile priests in the Newcastle-Maitland area and the way their activities were covered-up. 

    The Newcastle Herald, which had led the charge in investigating the church in the Hunter region, also editorialised that Lucas should remove himself from his duties. 

    Fr Lucas was named in the special commission of inquiry under the heading of "Adverse Findings". 

    Tommy More gatherings are usually such terrific funCommissioner Cunneen found that he knew or believed that an offence had been committed by Fr Denis McAlinden and that he had information that might have been of assistance in securing apprehension, prosecution or conviction of McAlinden.

    Cunneen reported that the behaviour of the diocese and Lucas was " ... short sighted and failed to have proper regard to the continuing risk which McAlinden posed to children".

    The Bishops Conference responded: 

    "Father Lucas has the support of the bishops because the report did not make adverse findings as to credit, nor did it recommend any action be taken with respect of Father Lucas." 

    Cunneen Foxed 

    Cunneen: made negative findings about Fox's objectivity - similar to the findings made by the CCA about her

    FOR her part Crown Prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, this week, has had a spiky round with the McClelland Royal Commission 

    She seemed to give as good as she got, if the reports are any guide, in defence of her advice to Queensland authorities that there was "no reasonable prospect" of gaining a conviction against swimming coach Scott Volkers, against whom there had been numerous complaints of kiddy fiddling. 

    The ABC's Four Corners did a comprehensive investigation into Volkers in 2004.  

    In May, Cunneen's report on the way police investigated allegations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church's Maitland-Newcastle dioceses was made public. 

    The findings were not well received in all quarters, particularly from supporters of whistleblowing copper Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox. 

    It was Fox who put the inquiry on the road with his public criticisms of the dithering way the police went about investigating child sexual abuse by the holy men of Newcastle. 

    Observers who sat through Ms Cunneen's inquiry thought that the investigation focused on the politics of policing and getting the coppers out of it with as little damage as possible. 

    It was clear, from early on, that Cunneen was prepared to tolerate a lot from the police, but not much from Fox. 

    In the end, she found that Fox was deliberately untruthful, prone to exaggerate aspects of his evidence, not possessed with detachment and a zealot. 

    "The commission considers that by at least 2010 Fox had lost the objectivity required of an investigating officer regarding such matters. While he remained passionate about things involving the Catholic Church, he no longer possessed the detachment necessary for properly investigating such matters. In short, he had become a zealot." 

    Fox supporters, of whom there are many (see SMH letters page), have been helpful enough to point out that those adverse findings are not terribly different from the ones the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal made in relation to prosecutor Cunneen in Armstrong v R.  

    Justice Hormones Harrison said evidence from a crown expert was used improperly by the prosecutor; her address to the jury gave rise to a miscarriage of justice; she speculated in making suggestions to the jury; and made "gratuitously pejorative and fundamentally irrelevant" remarks to the jury. 

    See: Crown Prosecutor birched by CCA 

    7-Up 

    Jackson's Landing: at the top

    WE'RE waiting for the news to drop that the Deutsche Bank branch of Phillip Street's Seven Wentworth is to break away from the mothership and go it alone. 

    The tip is that divorce papers have already been served by level 36, 126 Phillip Street (Jackson's Landing),  on Seven Wentworth at 180 Phillip St (the Heart of the Bar). 

    David Jackson himself may not hang about in the expensive floor space, as he's thinking of spending more time floating around the world on luxury boats. 

    Another from his floor is tipped to be heading to the Federal Circus Court. 

    Ian Belshaw, the clerk at 11 St James Hall, has been poached to run the de-annexed enterprise. More space is opening up on level 33 Deutsche Place, so the whole thing could be huge. 

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