ABC journalist Louise Milligan has been ordered to transcribe shorthand notes of conversations she had with Cardinal George Pell’s alleged victims after his defence barrister claimed they were “unreadable”.
The award-winning journalist is due to give evidence at Cardinal George Pell’s committal hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court next Monday.
Cardinal Pell, 76, is fighting historical sexual offence charges involving multiple complainants.
No other details of the charges can be reported for legal reasons.
Milligan is expected to be cross-examined on the contents of her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, as well as her report for 7.30 which detailed allegations made against the Cardinal.
Defence barrister Robert Richter, QC, asked Magistrate Belinda Wallington to use her “status” to have Milligan transcribe 100 pages of shorthand notes which were undecipherable.
Louise Milligan has been ordered to transcribe her notes before she gives evidence. (News Video)
He said they had already contacted Milligan’s legal adviser, Jack Rush, QC, to urge her to dictate the notes but were told “she was too busy”.
Mr Richter said his only other option would be asking the journalist to dictate the notes line-by-line in court.
“It’s a question of whether it’s just her time or the time of a lot of people involved in this litigation,” he told the court.
“It’s not in the interests of the administration of justice and we hope that she would have the administration of justice in mind, not just that she’s written a book that she would like purchased.”
Prosecutor Mark Gibson SC agreed it would save the court’s time if a transcript could be provided.
Magistrate Wallington said it was usual practice for notes to be provided in a “decipherable form” and asked that Milligan supply them before Monday.
Ms Milligan has since posted on Twitter that she spent a lot of time responding to the court order to supply certain documents.
“I wish it to be known that I have taken weeks and weeks of my own time complying with the court subpoena,” she posted.
“But I have not, at any time, given any material which would identify a confidential source to the defence or court.”
Also on Wednesday, two brothers who lived in country Victoria in the 1970s gave evidence about Cardinal Pell’s behaviour at a local swimming pool.
They both said the then-Father Pell would play a game with some of the children where they would put their feet into hands, which were clasped together in a stirrup, allowing him to launch them into the water.
They separately told the court that no-one had ever told them that Cardinal Pell had acted inappropriately and the children had initiated the game.
Another two witnesses gave evidence about their time as members of a choir which performed during mass at Melbourne’s St Patrick’s Cathedral in the late 1990s.
One told the court he had never seen then-Archbishop Pell alone with any members of the choir.
Another said Cardinal Pell always behaved in a fairly formal manner.
The hearing is expected to conclude next week when the magistrate will rule on whether there is enough evidence to commit Cardinal Pell to stand trial.