NEWCASTLE Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy has taken the stand at the Special Commission of Inquiry into how police and senior clergy handled allegations of child sex abuse within the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese.
Ms McCarthy told the inquiry that she was handed information concerning disgraced priest Denis McAlinden by a victim of abuse in late 2009.
Some time later, Ms McCarthy forwarded the information to police, with the consent of the victim known only as AL.
Ms McCarthy said the significance of the information only dawned on her later when she was investigating how the church had handled its own investigation into McAlinden.
She also said she had had no contact with Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox aside from a brief phone call in 2007.
The inquiry has adjourned for lunch. Ms McCarthy’s testimony is expected to continue throughout Monday afternoon.
Head of police strike force takes stand at abuse inquiry
EARLIER REPORT: The head of a strike force charged with investigating allegations of child abuse within the Catholic church has told a Special Commission of Inquiry that he was not encouraged by any superior officer to ignore whistleblower detective Peter Fox.
Detective Sergeant Jeffrey Little, who headed Strike Force Lantle, took the stand at the inquiry in Newcastle on Monday morning for the final week of hearings into how police handled investigations into sex abuse cover-ups within the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese.
Detective Sergeant Little said he was not told by anyone, including Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Humphrey who was his superior at the time, to shut Detective Fox out of the investigation.
Asked by counsel assisting Julia Lonergan SC if he had any reason to include or consult Mr Fox, Mr Little said ‘‘certainly not’’.
In response to further questioning, Mr Little said he had been satisfied that Mr Fox had handed over all aspects of his investigation into the matter and there was no reason to consult him further.
He conceded, however, that he was reminded to have no contact about his investigations with the media, specifically Newcastle Herald journalist Joanne McCarthy, who police believed was being leaked information by Mr Fox.
Detective Sergeant Little also told the inquiry that he had never heard of the term ‘‘Catholic mafia’’, adding that he was ‘‘absolutely mortified’’ to hear earlier evidence from Mr Fox that the strike force had been set up to fail.
The inquiry also heard on Monday morning that a submission to broaden its terms of reference had been lodged to include certain allegations made in an ABC Television program last week.