Coveted news presenter Andrew Bolt has thrown his support behind Cardinal George Pell claiming he’s “shocked and appalled” by the decision by the court to dismiss his appeal.
The 59-year-old spoke openly about his thoughts on the guilty charge against Pell for the sexual assault of two choir boys shortly after the decision was handed down on Wednesday for him to remain behind bars, congratulating the one judge who said he would have acquitted the Cardinal. Bolt said on Sky News he was not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Pell was guilty of the crimes and that he should not remain in jail.
“I have to congratulate Justice Mark Weinberg for being that judge who did stand against all that, did look at the evidence and say no he couldn’t believe that George Pell could be convicted on reasonable grounds,” he explained on Sky News. “I am shocked, appalled, disappointed, that that judge was outvoted by two others and that Cardinal George Pell will remain in jail.”
He continued by explaining he has never had much faith in the justice system and claimed Pell will most likely spend years behind bars for a crime “many believe could not possible have been committed”. “My faith in the justice system, never terribly high, is much lower now,” Bolt added.
“Of course you should listen to the victims, but you should also say that not all accusations are true and that you do not insult people by saying I will be convinced by the evidence. I am not going to be cowed by the people who’ve tried to get me kicked off Sky News, boycotted the advertisers etc for saying what I believe to be true, that George Pell is not guilty beyond reasonable doubt.”
Bolt’s comments follow news on Wednesday that Pell’s legal team confirmed they are not giving up and will take the case to the High Court. A statement was released by Pell’s representatives just hours after the Supreme Court of Victoria handed down its decision to dismiss the cardinal’s appeal, explaining that he maintains his innocence.
“Cardinal Pell is obviously disappointed with the decision today,” the statement, which was shared widely online, read. “However his legal team will thoroughly examine the judgement in order to determine a special leave application to the High Court. While noting the split 2-1 decision, Cardinal Pell maintains his innocence. We thank his many supporters.”
The statement came on the same day that 78-year-old Pell lost his appeal, meaning he will continue to serve his sentence of six years imprisonment. It was also confirmed that he will become eligible for parole after three years and eight months.
During the hearing on Wednesday Chief Justice Anne Ferguson explained their reasoning behind dismissing the appeal. She told the court after examining the evidence presented throughout the trial that it was open to the jury to be satisfied by reasonable doubt that cardinal pell was guilty.
Further to this they rejected all 13 of the reasons Pell’s lawyers said the cardinal could not have carried out the abuse of the choir boys. This included that the robes Pell was wearing at the time of the crime were capable of being manoeuvred in a way that they could be pushed to the side to commit the abuse.
The judges also found the complainant’s evidence to be true, with Ferguson explaining they were “clearly not a liar”. “It is not enough that the jury might have had a doubt, but they must have had a doubt,” she said in court. “This was a compelling witness, clearly not a liar, not a fantasist and was a witness of truth.”
According to the Catholic News Agency Pell was joined at the court hearing by his brother David and friend and former Sydney Comms Manager Katrina Lee and chancellor of the Sydney archdiocese Chris Meany.
+Pell's solicitor Paul Galbally has arrived with +Pell's brother David, Pell's friend and former Sydney Comms Manager Katrina Lee, and Mr Chris Meaney, chancellor of the Sydney archdiocese.
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) August 20, 2019
Prime Minister Scott Morrison also spoke following the outcome of the appeal, telling reporters in Canberra: “My understanding is that this (appeal loss) would result in the stripping of the honours that are decided externally to the government,” Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra following the appeal loss.”That is a process that is done independently, and that course will now follow.”
Morrison also urged those who are suffering any form of abuse, or reliving it due to the media attention around Pell’s case, to “reach out to those around them, to reach out to the services that are there for them”.”The courts have done their job. They’ve rendered their verdict,” he added. “That’s the system of justice in this country and that must be respected.”