Questions over gay porn: inquiry

ARCHIVE of Herald reports


POLICE whistleblower Peter Fox has been questioned at length over his reaction to gay pornography found at the Lochinvar presbytery a few months after Father Jim Fletcher took up duties there as a priest.

In a session of cross examination before lunch on Tuesday, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox was taken through evidence he had previously given to the Special Commission of Inquiry sitting in Newcastle.

Mr Fox had said previously that a lay worker had found gay pornography in the presbytery and that Mr Fox believed it had belonged to Fletcher, who was subsequently convicted of abusing an altar boy and who died in jail in 2009.

But counsel assisting the inquiry, Julia Lonergan, put it to him that he had no evidence that proved the pornography belonged to Fletcher, and that another priest, Father Desmond Harrigan, had told him it belonged to him.

Mr Fox agreed Father Harrigan had told him he owned the pornography and had destroyed it.

Later, answering solicitor Elizabeth McLaughlin for Father Harrigan, Mr Fox said it was the nature of police work that people did not always tell the truth.

‘‘As a detective, we don’t always accept people at their word,’’ Mr Fox said.

He agreed with Ms Lonergan that he may not have had a completely open mind about the Lochinvar matter, and may have believed the pornography was Fletcher’s regardless of Father Harrigan’s contentions.

As Ms Lonergan made clear, the detail of Mr Fox’s policing activities was important in this case because he had raised the Lochinvar presbytery pornography as an example of the Catholic Church destroying evidence in complaints that led to the creation of this investigation.


Asked why he had not sought a formal police statement from Father Harrigan about the Lochinvar pornography, Mr Fox said he did not think it was fully relevant to the Fletcher prosecution at the time.

Questioned by Ms McLaughlin, Mr Fox defended his procedures, saying he ‘‘could not foresee this inquiry, of course, at the time’’.

Ms McLaughlin said she wanted a non-publication order on this section of evidence but Ms Lonergan said the issue had already been raised in public evidence previously.

Commissioner Margaret Cunneen said she was inclined to agree.

The inquiry continues on Tuesday afternoon.

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THE fifth week of public hearings in the Newcastle Special Commission of Inquiry opened with persistent cross-examining of police whistleblower Peter Fox.

It concluded with counsel for the diocese, Lachlan Gyles, asking for a non-publication order on this morning’s evidence, a call that was rejected by the commission.

Detective Chief Inspector Fox and Mr Gyles sparred over a statement that Father Robert Searle made to police in relation to the trial of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher.

As the commission had previously heard Mr Fox alleged that Father Searle had ‘‘watered down’’ the statement he gave to another officer.

Mr Fox’s evidence was that Father Searle had gone from saying victim AH had ranted about paedophile priests to saying in his statement that AH was upset because ‘‘nobody loves me’’.

Mr Gyles repeatedly put it to Mr Fox that this was not the case and that Mr Fox’s evidence was incorrect.

Mr Fox repeatedly said that his evidence was correct.

At the close of the encounter Mr Gyles asked for the non-publication order which was objected to by Mark Cohen for Mr Fox and by counsel assisting the inquiry Julia Lonergan.

Mr Gyles said he was concerned about Father Searle’s reputation.

Ms Lonergan said Father Searle would be able to give his version of events in his evidence later in the inquiry.

Commissioner Margaret Cunneen said that the inquiry needed to get to the truth of things and refused Mr Gyles’s request.

Bracks backs Lake for Hotham

Former Victorian premier Steve Bracks backs Cr Geoff Lake for Hotham. Photo: Jesse MarlowBarry Jones backs Gillard’s choice for Lalor

Former Victorian Premier Steve Bracks has entered the public preselection debate throwing his weight behind Geoff Lake to take Simon Crean’s seat of Hotham.

Mr Bracks has written to ALP members in Hotham urging them to support Cr Lake in the seat. In the letter, seen by Fairfax Media, Mr Bracks praises Cr Lake’s leadership and professional skills and says he can play a key role in party reform.

Cr Lake, 33, who is a member of the National Union of Workers, was elected to Monash City Council when he was just 20. In 2000, at 22, he became the state’s youngest mayor.

During his time on the council he has been president of the Australian Local Government Association and the Municipal Association of Victoria, where he worked closely with Mr Bracks.

”In those professional dealings I found his advocacy on behalf of local government and local communities to be thoughtful and insightful, demonstrating his strong grasp of policy detail,” Mr Bracks wrote.

”Together with his substantial local work as a councillor and his professional career as a lawyer, I believe he has the right blend of local experience and leadership skills to continue the great policy contribution of Simon Crean to the Australian Labor Party.

”Even more importantly I believe Geoff can play an important role in the vital renewal of the Labor Party as it moves into a new Parliament.”

Mr Bracks’ endorsement of Cr Lake follows that of the retiring member, Mr Crean. The Australian Financial Review on Tuesday reported that Mr Crean had written to local members endorsing the young councillor.

Cr Lake is competing against Rosemary Barker, who is also a local.

Ms Barker is from the right-wing Labor Unity faction, and Cr Lake is from the NUW who only have one seat in federal parliament, Hotham.

There is a debate in the Labor Unity faction about whether to support Ms Barker or allow the NUW, who are not part of the group, a seat for the sake of longer term stability.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Northern Star shelves Ashburton gold mine

Another Australian mining project has hit the skids with market darling Northern Star delaying its Ashburton gold project indefinitely.

Ashburton was planned to be Northern Star’s next big hit after the successful revival of the Paulsens mine in WA over recent years.

But the recent downturn in the gold price appears to have killed-off hopes of going ahead with the mine, which was expected to cost several hundred million dollars.

In a statement, Northern Star said it was cutting its exploration and development budget, which would see Ashburton delayed “until gold prices recover”.

“Minimum expenditure commitments will continue to be met to ensure the company retains ownership of what it believes will be valuable assets in the future,” the company said.

The deferral is a quick turn around since the start of 2013 when Northern Star managing director Bill Beament began talks with investments banks over tapping bond markets to help fund the mine.

Ashburton was supposed to double Northern Star’s gold production to about 200,000 ounces per year.

It’s the latest example of a gold miner parking a future mine in response to the recent slump in the gold price. Newcrest Mining recently slowed development of several new mines and expansions in Australia and Papua New Guinea in response to the low gold price.

Miners of other commodities have been shelving new projects more for than a year now, with BHP Billiton’s decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam expansion in South Australia last year perhaps the most significant.

Northern Star’s deferral decision will be complemented by cutbacks to exploration spending and other administration costs, The decision sent Northern Star shares 2 cents higher to 62 cents this morning.

Investors are likely to be sympathetic to the company over the Ashburton mine given it was acquired for virtually no cost other than a royalty.

The company in May forecast it would produce between 100,000 and 115,000 ounces of gold in the year to June 30, 2013. The company today listed full-year production at just under 89,000 ounces, but added that “gold mined” in the year was just under 104,000 ounces.

Northern Star was a five cent stock in mid 2010, but rose steadily over the next couple of years to trade as high as $1.57 late in 2012.

That process won many fans for managing director Bill Beament and investor Michael Fotios, but the shares have not recovered since Mr Fotios sold down more than 7 million shares in November 2012.

Mr Beament said he was confident today’s changes were the right strategy for the gold miner.

“We have sought to strike the right balance between the need to ensure our business continues to generate satisfactory returns for shareholders while retaining the assets needed to grow over the longer term,” he said.

“This means reducing costs to enable us to keep our team of people and protect our margins.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Queensland name unchanged squad

Newcomer Daly Cherry-Evans returns with the Maroons for game three. Photo: Bradley KanarisThe setting was different, the names were the same. Queensland has unveiled an unchanged 17-man squad as the Maroons try to stretch their interstate domination to eight years.

The Maroons revealed their group in the central Queensland city of Rockhampton, where they will spend two days before returning to camp on the Sunshine Coast on Wednesday night.

With no injuries over the previous NRL rounds and the most emphatic of wins at Suncorp Stadium in game two, there was little cause for intrigue ahead of the decider at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday.

The changes that Mal Meninga boldly made for game two have stuck, with Daly Cherry-Evans and Josh Papalii earning their second shot at Origin after both impressed on debut.

Right after what Meninga considered his most difficult selection week, in which he dropped veterans Ash Harrison and David Shillington, this would surely have been one of his easiest.

Curiously, it’s the first time the Maroons have had the same 17 in consecutive games in their entire seven-year stretch of victory. This time, injury and suspension haven’t been a factor and Meninga has the luxury of the most settled of squads.

That is at odds with NSW, who find themselves battling injury to key players as they try to regroup from a loss that sent them crashing back down to Earth after a bright start to the series.

Queensland Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis, Brent Tate, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (c), Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Chris McQueen, Corey Parker. Interchange Matt Gillett, Josh Papalii, Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Te’o, Jacob Lillyman and Will Cahmbers (two to be omitted).

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Bogut staying at Warriors after trading frenzy

Andrew Bogut’s Golden State Warriors have made their NBA championship intentions clear by recruiting Team USA forward Andre Iguodala for the next four seasons.

Iguodala will reportedly sign a four year, $48 million deal with the Warriors when NBA free agents can officially sign their contracts on July 10.

He crosses from Denver Nuggets and will fill the starting small forward position for the Warriors.

Bogut was reportedly on the trading block as the Warriors looked to acquire centre Dwight Howard but Howard rejected the Warriors in favour of Houston Rockets.

Iguodala came as a surprise to some observers with rookie small forward Harrison Barnes impressing in the starting role last season, he will now likely become the Warriors sixth man with star guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson expected to start and David Lee at power forward alongside Bogut at centre.

Signing Iguodala has forced the Warriors to drop some of the key bench players who played major roles for them last season when the Warriors made it to the Western conference semi finals.

Power forward Carl Landry was let go and he signed a four-year deal with Sacramento Kings while veteran point guard Jarrett Jack inked a four-year deal with Cleveland Cavaliers where he will back up Kyrie Irving.

The Warriors also traded away three players with expiring contracts, sending guard Brandon Rush, centre Andris Biedrins and forward Richard Jefferson to the Utah Jazz, clearing salary cap room to sign Iguodala.

While Bogut looks unlikely to be traded now the club has signed Iguodala, his contract expires at the end of the season and if the Warriors don’t have a successful season, they may look to clear cap room and trade the big man before the NBA trade deadline in February.

Howard’s Rockets are also shaping as a competitor to the major Western conference teams with the athletic centre now teamed with star guards James Harden and Jeremy Lin along with emerging small forward Chandler Parsons.

The Rockets have several holes to fill on their bench but have already began to sign players with forward Francisco Garcia re-signing and Omri Casspi agreeing to a two-year deal.

Detroit Pistons have also made a major move signing free agent forward Josh Smith from the Atlanta Hawks while the LA Lakers have agreed to a one-year deal with centre Chris Kaman, who spent last season with Dallas.

Two other contending teams have signed important bench players with LA Clippers keeping defensive ace Matt Barnes and also managing to fit highly rated point guard Darren Collison into their salary cap with Collison agreeing to a two-year deal to back-up the newly re-signed Chris Paul.

Brooklyn Nets continued to strengthen their bench with Shaun Livington taking a one-year offer to play back-up point guard to Deron Williams.

Earl Clark will cross to Cleveland from the LA Lakers while Italian shooter Marco Belinelli has taken a two-year deal with San Antonio Spurs after spending last season with the Chicago Bulls.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.