FORMER police officer Troy Grant has told the Special Commission of Inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse claims that he never used the term ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ and had never encountered any interference from police during his investigations into paedophilia by priests.
Mr Grant, now state MP for Dubbo, described Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox as ‘‘a meticulous investigator’’ but he denied ever saying to him that a ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ existed within the ranks of Newcastle police.
On Monday, Mr Fox had told the inquiry that Mr Grant had warned him about a ‘‘Catholic mafia’’. The claim was made in the context that police investigations into the alleged cover-up of child sex abuse by Catholic priests had been shelved or hampered.
As a police officer, Mr Grant investigated and charged paedophile priest Vince Ryan in 1995. Ryan was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in jail for offences relating to 31 victims.
‘‘I’m sure I would remember using the term,’’ Mr Grant told the commission this morning.
‘‘It’s a great phrase, a cracker of a phrase that I might use in my role as a politician.’’
Outside court, Mr Grant said: ‘‘I can’t explain why [Peter Fox] would attribute those comments to me . . . but I know he has a lot on.’’
Under cross examination, he rejected claims from counsel for Peter Fox that he was denying using the term ‘‘Catholic mafia’’ because it might cause him embarrassment among his constituents or in the state parliament.
Mr Grant told the commission that he respected Mr Fox and his meticulous manner.
‘‘His level of victim care is second to none,’’ Mr Grant said.
Mr Grant said that, during his investigations into Vince Ryan, he had been hindered by members of the Catholic clergy, but he had never encountered interference from within the police service.
Outside court, Mr Grant repeated the disappointment he expressed in 1996 when he was highly critical of the Department of Public Prosecutions for deciding not to charge Monsignor Patrick Cotter with concealing the crimes of Vince Ryan. Monsignor Cotter died in 2007.
He was particularly concerned about a nun who visited his home and ‘‘provided me with false evidence and tipped off a priest’’ on the night before Mr Grant arrested him.
Mr Grant said he would tell the Royal Commission into child sex abuse ‘‘or anyone else who wants to listen’’ about the obstructions he received from individuals within the Catholic church.
Mr Grant was a strong lobbyist for a Royal Commission into the church’s handling of child sex abuse claims, and has publicly called for the resignation of Sydney Archbishop Cardinal George Pell over his personal handling of the matter.
The inquiry continues.