Royal commission will hear from four former Newcastle Anglican bishops about child sexual abuse allegations

EIGHT Anglican bishops and archbishops, including six current or past bishops of Newcastle, will give evidence during a royal commission public hearing from Tuesday into child sexual abuse in the Hunter region.

Former Newcastle Bishops Alfred Holland and Richard Appleby will give evidence in the first few days of the hearing after survivors Phillip D’Ammond and Paul Gray give evidence on Tuesday about being sexually abused as children.

The hearing will start with allegations about the late Anglican priest Peter Rushton, and sexual abuse of children at St Alban’s Children’s Home at Cessnock.

The list of 30 witnesses includes former Bishops of Newcastle Roger Herft and Brian Farran, former trustee and member of Newcastle Diocesan Council Keith Allen, former diocese registrar Peter Mitchell, former diocesan solicitor Robert Caddies, and former chancellor Paul Rosser, QC.

The witness list does not include former Anglican Dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence, despite the defrocked clergyman being named by the royal commission as a subject of inquiry into how the diocese responded to child sex allegations against him.

Other priests defrocked after professional standards hearings in 2010 during Bishop Brian Farran’s term at the head of the Newcastle diocese, including Andrew Duncan and Bruce Hoare, are also not listed to give evidence.

The professional standards hearings, which led to an unsuccessful NSW Supreme Court challenge headed by Graeme Lawrence, are expected to be considered in the second half of the royal commission hearing.

Witnesses will include former professional standards board president Colin Elliot, former Bishop of Riverina Bruce Clark, current Adamstown rector Chris Bird, current Dean of Newcastle Stephen Williams, former Lord Mayor of Newcastle John McNaughton, current professional standards director Michael Elliott and current business manager John Cleary.

Former Archbishop of Sydney Harry Goodhew is listed to give evidence before the final public hearing witness, current Newcastle Bishop Greg Thompson.

The royal commission will hear evidence from five survivors of child sexual abuse within the diocese, their family members including the mother of a survivor, a former diocese youth worker and parishioner.

In 2015 Bishop Thompson led an historic Newcastle Synod apology for the diocese’s history of child sexual abuse, and said retired Bishop Brian Farran’s attempts to change a culture that denied the sexual abuse of children were undermined from within the church.

This story Eight bishops to give evidence at Newcastle inquiry first appeared on Newcastle Herald.