Why the ABC’s reporting of the George Pell case wasn’t a witch-hunt

Pell Never Disbelieve Complainant

Title: Why the ABC’s reporting of the George Pell case wasn’t a witch-hunt

Author: Craig McMurtrie

Publisher: ABC News

Date: 11APR2020

From the first trial that resulted in a hung jury, to a sweeping suppression order that set the national media and the courts on a collision course, the Pell case has polarised and transfixed the nation, and in light of the High Court ruling there is now opportunity for reflection.

ABC editorial policies make very clear that it is the job of the public broadcaster’s journalists to report “without fear or favour, even when that might be uncomfortable or unpopular”.

Cardinal George Pell himself told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse: “My own position is that you never disbelieve a complaint. But then it has to be assessed to see just whether it is valid and true and plausible. But the starting point must never be that they are disbelieved, that the allegations are taken very seriously and examined.”

That is what ABC journalists have been doing and will continue to do.

The Herald Sun first reported that there was a police investigation into Cardinal Pell, but it was the ABC’s Louise Milligan who met the former choirboy at the centre of the now quashed case against Cardinal Pell and it was Milligan who found and interviewed the family of the second alleged victim, who had died of a heroin overdose.

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