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Anglican abuse cover-up hearing continues

AAP logoAAP 7/08/2016 By Annette Blackwell

A solicitor who admits being part of a NSW Anglican diocese "cover up approach" to child sex abuse by clergy will return to the witness stand at a royal commission for a third day.

Keith Allen, a former trustee of the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle began his evidence on Friday and spent Monday answering questions about advice he gave to former bishops and the diocese on child sex abuse allegations against clergy and lay workers.

He said there was a culture of non-disclosure in the Anglican diocese, which is home to 62 parishes in the central coast and Hunter region of NSW.

On Monday Mr Allen was asked about the church's handling of "brown paper envelopes" files which contained notes about child sex abuse allegations and other sensitive diocesan matters and were dealt with by a review committee.

Mr Allen told the commission he understood the system was started by Roger Herft, the current archbishop of Perth who was bishop of Newcastle from 1993 to 2005.

The archbishop will give evidence later this week.

Mr Allen was stood down from all diocesan duties by current Bishop of Newcastle Greg Thompson because of his association with a group defending priests accused of misconduct.

The commission has already heard of deep divisions in the diocese over recommendations by the professional standards board that disciplinary action should be taken against a number of senior clerics.

Mr Allen agreed he was part of the group who defended the accused priests and in hindsight he was defending the "indefensible".

He also answered "yes" when commission chair Peter McClellan put to him that he was part of the "do nothing and cover up and protect the church approach" within the diocese.

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