Cardinal George Pell is seen outside St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Friday, December 15, 2017.
Cardinal George Pell is seen outside St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Friday, December 15, 2017.

ABC to hand over footage, notes to Cardinal Pell’s lawyers

LAWYERS for George Pell have won access to hours of interview footage, transcripts and notes of the journalist who wrote a recently published award-winning book about him.

The ABC and journalist Louise Milligan have agreed to handover a hard drive full of background material used to prepare TV reports and the book Cardinal.

Lawyers for the Cardinal have sought the material, as well as documents from Victoria Police and Melbourne University Press, as they prepare his defence against historical sexual assault charges.

ABC journalist Louise Milligan.
ABC journalist Louise Milligan.

The Cardinal has been charged with historical sexual offences but the specific charges he is facing, or the number of alleged offences, is not yet known.

During a brief administrative hearing the Melbourne Magistrates Court heard today lawyers for the Cardinal, the ABC and Ms Milligan said they had reached an agreement over access to the journalist's notes.


Ms Milligan has won a string of awards for her work covering the Cardinal Pell allegations.

Her work culminated in a book published by Melbourne University Press which Cardinal Pell's Rome office labelled "an exercise in character assassination".

It was pulled from shelves in Victoria after he was charged.

"MUP is taking all reasonable measures to withdraw Cardinal: the rise and fall of George Pell by Louise Milligan from sale in Victoria now that Cardinal Pell has been charged," the publisher said at the time.

The book was released on May 15 and contained allegations about sexual assaults in Ballarat between 1976 and 1980 and in East Melbourne between 1996 and 2001.

Cardinal Pell was not in court for today's administrative hearing, and was not required to be.

He is expected to face a month-long preliminary hearing in March over the allegations, about half of which are expected to be heard in a closed court while the complainants are cross-examined.

The case is expected to return to court twice before then.

The Cardinal has taken leave from his post as the Vatican's finance chief but has vowed to return to the top job once he clears his name.

His high-profile lawyer, Robert Richter, QC, has repeatedly said Cardinal Pell would vigorously fight every charge brought against him.

When he was charged in June Cardinal Pell made a statement proclaiming his innocence.

"I'm innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sex offences is abhorrent to me," he said.

"News of these charges strengthens my resolve, and court proceedings now offer me an opportunity, to clear my name and then return to my work in Rome.

"I am looking forward ­finally to having my day in court."

The matter will return to court on January 24.