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Book that exposed Cardinal George Pell's sex offences goes back on sale after gag order

Book that exposed Cardinal George Pell's sex offences goes back on sale after gag order

The explosive book that highlighted cases of alleged abuse and cover-ups by Cardinal George Pell has returned to shelves in Victoria today after the suppression order surrounding Pell’s trial was lifted.

Along with the flood of reportage about the Cardinal’s trial in the Australian media over the last 24 hours after months of enforced silence, Cardinal: The rise of fall of George Pell by ABC investigative journalist Louise MIlligan is back on sale after being removed from shelves in Victoria in June 2017 to avoid contempt of court.

The book came out with an accompanying 7:30 report about Pell’s alleged sex offences and sparked controversy across the world. In a defence of her investigation, Milligan wrote in The Age, ‘if Cardinal Pell is charged, my book will be withdrawn from circulation in the Victorian jurisdiction and will only be reissued at the conclusion of that process.’

The book details Pell’s alleged historical sex offences and includes interviews with the victim who gave the evidence that secured Pell’s conviction of child sexual assault in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1996.

Milligan was cross-examined during the trial. Over 100 pages of her notes relating to the book were subpoenaed by Pell’s lawyers and she was asked to read them aloud as the lawyers couldn’t read her shorthand.

During her appearance in court, Pell’s defence barrister Robert Richter QC told Milligan that with her book she had ‘distorted what went to the public … so as to poison the public’s mind.’

Richter also called the credibility of her sources into question, as some of the people interviewed had histories of criminality and substance abuse.

Milligan responded, ‘People who have a criminal trajectory and a trajectory of drug abuse and alcoholism and other ways which they go off the rails … that is precisely the trajectory of little children who were abused. They could be torn apart by people like you.’

After the publication of Cardinal by Melbourne University Press, a review was ordered into the publisher that resulted in the resignation of MUP chief executive Louise Adler and the rest of the board. The university had decided to refocus their publishing on scholarly works.

Allan Myers QC, the university's chancellor since 2017, is one of Pell’s lawyers.