Tony Abbott defends 'fine man' George Pell

Geore Pell and Tony Abbott
The two men have been friends for years.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has jumped to the defence of his old friend Cardinal George Pell, calling him a “fine man indeed”.

Yesterday, Victoria Police announced Cardinal Pell had been charged on historic sexual abuse charges and was ordered to return to Melbourne to face court on July 18.

Following the announcement, Abbott issued his support for Pell in a statement told Fairfax.

“Obviously, the legal process must now take its course,” the former prime minister said.

“But the George Pell I have known is a very fine man indeed.

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It’s not the first time Abbott has spoken about his relationship with Pell.

In 2012, he described Pell as “a person of significance and influence in my life,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

“Occasionally he will ring me with a thought. Occasionally I will ring him to ask could we catch up.

“Once or twice I’ve sought his counsel on important matters where I thought he would have insight and wisdom I didn’t think others would likely have.”

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Pell has consistently denied there is any truth to the allegations of abuse and conducted a short press conference on Thursday afternoon from the Vatican.

“I’m innocent of these charges. They are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me,” he said.

What are your thoughts on this? Could this affect Abbott’s political standing?