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29 June
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Police leaks linked to Fox

ABOVE BOARD: Assistant Commissioner Carlene York, right, leaves the inquiry. Picture: Darren PatemanARCHIVE of Herald reports
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TRANSCRIPTS AND COURT EXHIBITS

SENIOR police were concerned that confidential details about the investigation into alleged cover-ups of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church were being leaked and Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox was the suspected source of the leaks, the region’s former commander said yesterday.

Assistant Commissioner Carlene York said there was no evidence that Newcastle police did not want to investigate the claims and the investigation that was done was ‘‘thorough’’ and ‘‘extensive’’.

She also said she had never heard the term ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ during her time as Northern Region commander and her decision to assign the investigation to the Newcastle City detectives office was based on a number of factors including the locality of the alleged offences and the resources of that office.

The Special Commission of Inquiry being held in Newcastle is examining claims by Mr Fox that he was ordered to stop investigating claims of concealment of sexual abuse within the Church.

The inquiry was also examining allegations that Church officials hindered such investigations.

The inquiry heard that the electronic files of the strike force charged with investigating the claims were marked ‘‘highly protected’’, which restricted access to those files.

Assistant Commissioner York said there were concerns that confidential information was being leaked to the Newcastle Herald and she was later told by another officer the suspected source of the leaks was Mr Fox.

She said such leaks could hinder an investigation because it could tip off suspects.

Assistant Commissioner York said it was her decision to assign the investigation to Newcastle City detectives after she received a report from Mr Fox in 2010 containing a number of allegations.

She said she never considered Mr Fox to be on the strike force because he was crime manager at Port Stephens, one of the smallest commands in the region, and there were insufficient resources to cover him.

She said every command in the region was under-resourced, but Port Stephens in particular was too small for such an inquiry.

When referred to a comment by another officer that an element of the investigation was being ‘‘abysmally managed’’ she said she didn’t agree.

She admitted that the strike force encountered difficulties when a number of investigators went on sick leave, but an ‘‘excellent’’ brief of evidence was prepared and sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The hearing before Commissioner Margaret Cunneen continues.

 
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