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NSW Bar president criticises ‘ill-timed’ comments from Minster for Police
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NSW Bar president criticises ‘ill-timed’ comments from Minster for Police

New South Wales Bar Association president Arthur Moses SC has said recent comments from the state’s Minister for Policeabout the ongoing criminal proceedings involving the Archbishop of Adelaide should not have been made.

Mr Moses’ comments came in response to a recent media interview by Minister Troy Grant, in which he criticised the sentencing of Archbishop Philip Wilson for concealing child sexual abuse.

The sentencing process is not yet complete, Mr Moses noted, with an appeal being foreshadowed, and while decisions of the courts should be subject to legitimate criticism once proceedings are complete, that time has not yet come in this case.

“Ministers of the Crown should not comment on matters still before the Court, let alone urge a particular result in a case,” Mr Moses argued.

“Such conduct raises an apprehension that the Executive is attempting to influence the judiciary and hence the outcome of proceedings.”

“The difficulty with the comments made by the Minister is compounded by the fact that the Government has a close involvement in the case – prosecutions for the relevant offence can only proceed with the approval of the Attorney-General,” he added.

The NSW Bar Association understands that the Minister has also made comments about the application of recent uncommenced sentencing provisions in this case, Mr Moses noted.

This criticism is misplaced, he asserted, as the provisions do not apply to the proceedings involving Archbishop Wilson.

“Caution must be exercised by Ministers when making comments regarding proceedings which are on foot,” he posited.

“It is critical that the Government not be perceived as attempting to influence judicial processes.”

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