Odd, very odd indeed

milliganWhen a case is before the courts the guiding principle holds that matters of evidence and potential evidence are not to be commented upon. What then to make of two things?

The first is this week’s demand by Cardinal George Pell’s legal team that ABC reporter Louise Milligan’s notes and papers be made available for examination.

Her book, Cardinal, was first rushed to the printer by Melbourne University Press  (MUP) — proud publisher of colourful Carlton identity and acquitted killer Mick Gatto’s memoirs — then just as rapidly taken off the shelves when, after more than a year of highly prejudicial drips from deep within the leaking bowels of Victoria Police, charges were finally brought. Written as it is from the perspective of alleged victims, Milligan’s publisher understood how the tome might influence the trial and its outcome. But bringing forward publication before the Pell case was officially listed and sub judice sanctions kicked in, well that made it legally safe.

Melbourne University allowed Geoffrey Blainey to be hounded from its campus, hosts the eco-loons of the Sustainable Society Institute and pours lots of money into Meanjin, but don’t assume its brains trust is entirely stupid.

The second curiosity — and it is very curious indeed — is the announcement on Friday by Owen Dixon Chambers that Ms Milligan has won its Law Reporter of the Year award. And, yes, she won it for Cardinal. Click on the image atop this post to share the ABC reporter’s delight at being so honoured.

For those unaware of Owen Dixon Chambers’ place in the judish-o-sphere, it is the premier roost for the smartest, savviest, sharpest and most expensive legal minds. Yet there they go, honouring a book that may well, almost certainly will, figure in evidence and argument when Cardinal Pell finally gets his day in court — a book, moreover, unavailable for sale in Victoria for the entirely valid legal reason that its contents might cast a shadow over the impartial application of the law.

Why, it’s almost as if the Owen Dixon Chambers crowd see the upcoming trial as all over but for the clatter of a tumbril rolling into the court’s loading bay!

To read more of Ms Milligan and her withdrawn book, follow this link or the one below for Gerard Henderson’s thoughts. Here’s a taste (emphasis added):

‘Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell’ … does not uncover “uncomfortable truths” about the Catholic Church.  The scandal of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been known for decades.  Nor is the book a contribution to “the community’s understanding of the Catholic Church’s response to child sexual abuse”. As the author acknowledged when interviewed on the ABC TV News Breakfast program on 17 May 2017, ‘Cardinal‘ was written “from the complainants’ point of view”.

So ‘Cardinal’ is not an objective analysis of either the Catholic Church or Cardinal George Pell.  Rather, it is the case for the prosecution – primarily researched by ABC journalist Louise Milligan while working for the taxpayer-funded public broadcaster.

Now read on….

— roger franklin

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