Outrage as Tony Abbott visits “friend” Cardinal George Pell in jail
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has caused outrage after he visited Cardinal George Pell in jail, where he is being held on child sex convictions.
Abbott has not been shy about his praise for the 78-year-old Catholic senior and admitted to previously calling his long-time friend after Pell was found guilty.
Seven News reported that the pair were reunited during a prison visit in Melbourne.
“Look, I was simply visiting a friend,” he told a waiting reporter. “That’s all.”
Abbott declined to answer other questions as he got into a taxi.
— Brendan Donohoe (@BrendanDonohoe7) 2 December 2019
Pell was found guilty of five convictions for molesting two choirboys 22 years ago.
He initially was sentences to six years behind bars but has had his bid to appeal the conviction granted by the High Court of Australia.
Abbott has been a long-time supporter of Pell and reluctantly admitted in an interview with journalist Ben Fordham that he called Pell after he was found guilty.
“It was a call I put into him, yes I spoke to him,” Mr Abbott admitted.
Fordham asked if he would consider his support if Pell was found guilty, but Abbott said that they should see what the appeal court finds.
“Well he’s been found guilty by a court of a horrible crime, an absolutely horrible crime,” he said.
“Let’s see what the appeal court finds. It’s a shocking and devastating result.”
Ray Hadley also grilled Abbott over whether or not he provided a character reference for Pell.
“I honestly don’t know whether I was asked to provide a reference or not. I have no recall of being asked to provide a reference,” Mr Abbott said.
“When it comes to the phone call, look, I’m not a fair weather friend. This was someone who was obviously going through a very, very bad experience. Now I’m not saying that he’s the only one going through bad experiences, but he has been a friend of mine for a long time, and at a time like this you’ve got to feel for people,” Abbott explained.
“You’ve got to feel for the victims, who’ve been dreadfully betrayed by an institution they should have been able to trust. You’ve got to feel for the people who are dismayed by this verdict against someone they’d put up on a pedestal.”
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