AAP June 26, 2013, 1:59 pm
The police whistleblower whose allegations helped trigger an inquiry into alleged child sex abuse by NSW priests has been described as a lying zealot.
Newcastle police crime manager Wayne Humphrey told the inquiry on Wednesday he lodged a formal complaint against Detective Chief inspector Peter Fox in 2011 because he suspected him of leaking confidential information to the media, and he was obliged to complain under police operating guidelines.
Detective Chief Inspector Humphrey said he and another senior officer searched Det Insp Fox’s office when he was away on leave in 2011 because he had been directed by another senior officer to locate a document related to allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
The special commission is examining the way police and Maitland/Newcastle diocese leaders handled child sexual abuse allegations, particularly involving priests Denis McAlinden and James Fletcher.
Det Insp Fox has alleged that diocese officials covered up crimes and were aided by a “Catholic mafia” within police ranks.
Det Insp Humphrey denied Det Insp Fox had been shut out of investigations into the alleged concealment of child sex abuse by priests.
He said Det Insp Fox was a “zealot” who told lies.
Under cross examination, Det Insp Humphrey acknowledged he and Det Insp Fox were not close.
“Clearly now I don’t think we’ll be holding hands and skipping down the street,” he said.
“(But) it’s a nonsense to suggest that this is a personal issue.”
In Tuesday’s evidence, however, Det Insp Humphrey said he bore no animosity to Det Insp Fox and described him as a “good detective, a very senior police officer and I have no problem with his work at all.”
Det Insp Humphrey said that while his parents were practising Catholics and he had attended a Catholic primary school he was “certainly not” a practising Catholic, didn’t like going to church and had not christened his children in the Catholic tradition.
The hearing continues.
Senior police officer apologises to whistleblower Peter Fox for unfair comments
A senior New South Wales policeman has apologised to whistleblower Peter Fox for comments he made in his statement to the Special Commission investigating child sexual abuse in the Hunter Valley’s Catholic Church.
The Special Commission is looking into Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox’s claims that he was ordered to stop investigating two Maitland-Newcastle priests, Father Denis McAlinden and Father James Fletcher.
Peter Fox’s superior, Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Humphrey, began giving evidence this afternoon at the public hearings in Newcastle.
In court today he made changes to his statement before it was tendered to the Commission, saying there were “unfair comments” regarding Peter Fox, and he apologised.
He also told the court there was no intention to shut Peter Fox out of the investigation but “it needed fresh eyes”.
Journalist contacted senior clergyman about abuse
The journalist at the centre of the inquiry says a senior clergyman knew about a paedophile priest but did nothing about it.
In giving evidence today Fairfax journalist Joanne McCarthy said she contacted senior Hunter Valley priest Brian Lucas.
She told the court Father Lucas had material about Father Denis McAlinden sexually abusing children but he did nothing about it.
She said the material indicates the “systemic protection of paedophiles” and “an intention to alert McAlinden” to the allegations.
Joanne McCarthy denied she had an agreement with police whistleblower Peter Fox not to disclose information.
Dubbed his “informant”, Ms McCarthy yesterday started giving evidence.
The hearings have heard DCI Fox gave Ms McCarthy an internal police report, which he asked her to keep close to her chest.
She told the court she was his “sounding board”.
When asked by police barrister Wayne Roser why she did not tell a police strike force that Peter Fox had more statements, Ms McCarthy said it was not her place.
She said the report showed Peter Fox was still “desperately keen to investigate” the concealment allegations.
When asked by counsel assisting the commission whether she was “trying to advance Peter Fox’s agenda against certain police”, Joanne McCarthy said, “certainly not”.
Ms McCarthy told the court she ended up making a formal complaint to the Police Integrity Commission because she was not happy with the investigation.
She said it was Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell’s “bizarre suggestion” that she share her information with police.
Joanne McCarthy has now finished giving evidence.
Outside the court she said it has not been easy but she has no regrets.
“This whole thing has been difficult in terms of managing being a journalist but also being involved in an area that really was new and difficult and fraught, but very, very necessary,” she said.
“I’m very pleased that we’re at this point that we have a Federal Royal Commission.”