FORMER Hunter detective Peter Fox's book about the Catholic Church has been pulled from shelves following a defamation case settlement with a top NSW detective.
Publisher Hachette Australia and Mr Fox have issued a public apology and correction to Detective Inspector Jeff Little who alleged Mr Fox's book, Walking Towards Thunder, painted him as "callous" and helping "cover up" crimes committed by paedophile priests.
Inspector Little, now working at Bourke police station, sued for damages in the Federal Court in August.
The 30-year veteran was the head of Strike Force Lantle when it was established in late 2010 to investigate claims of sex abuse cover-up in the Hunter.
"Detective Inspector Jeff Little BM [bravery medal] has asserted that the book contained various false allegations about him in relation to his conduct as then Detective Sergeant Jeff Little BM in charge of Strike Force Lantle investigating sexual abuse in the Newcastle/Maitland Diocese of the Catholic Church," the apology reads.
"Peter Fox and Hachette Australia did not intend to convey such allegations about Detective Inspector Little BM. To the extent any reader understood the book to convey such allegations, Peter Fox and Hachette Australia withdraw them and apologise for any hurt and embarrassment felt by Detective Inspector Jeff Little BM and caused by the publication of the book."
Inspector Little alleged key parts of Mr Fox's 2019 book were "over-sensationalised".
Mr Fox, who said he was unable to comment this week, was a high-profile detective when he investigated child sex allegations against Hunter priest Jim Fletcher, leading to Fletcher's conviction in 2004.
By November, 2012 he appeared on the ABC's Lateline to allege the Catholic Church covered up crimes, silenced victims and hindered police investigations. He also controversially alleged there was a "Catholic mafia" in the NSW Police force that covered up crimes.
A NSW Special Commission of Inquiry found no evidence of a ''Catholic mafia'' within NSW Police that was obstructing the investigation of claims against clergy. Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, SC, found Mr Fox had "lost" objectivity and was prone to exaggeration in his evidence.
At the time, Mr Fox was critical of the inquiry and said he felt like the "whole process" was aimed at him.
"I'll put my hand up. I was seeing psychiatrists and I was on medication after the commission of inquiry. I went through all that with post traumatic stress disorder. I was a bit of a basket case for a little while after the commission, but this is sadly the plight of most whistleblowers," he said in an interview in 2019.
It's understood an amended copy of the book may be re-issued.
Many abuse victims regard Mr Fox as a hero.
While you're with us, did you know the Newcastle Herald offers breaking news alerts, daily email newsletters and more? Keep up to date with all the local news - sign up here
IN THE NEWS:
- Former Opal Aged Care managing director granted more than $900k in government grants
- Koala crisis: Chlamydia one of Aussie icon's biggest problems
- Bomb threat interrupts NSW HSC for the third day
- Health authorities investigating source of south-west Sydney COVID infection
- OPINION: 'They have rocks in their head': Brandy Hill/Seaham Action group slams quarry call