CLERGY abuse survivors say a prominent Newcastle Anglican at the subject of this week’s Royal Commission hearings should be stripped of his Order of Australia Medal and his position as a Freeman of the City of Newcastle.
Graeme Lawrence, who was rector of Christ Church Cathedral and dean of Newcastle from 1984 to 2008, is one of the people at the heart of the Royal Commission’s investigations into “the experiences of child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy and lay people involved in or associated with the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle”.
He is one of eight Anglicans named in the terms of reference for case study 42, which ran for 11 days in August and which reconvenes on Wednesday for a scheduled five further days.
The commission is looking at Mr Lawrence’s own sexual behaviour and at the way he is alleged to have used his office to help protect himself and others.
Mr Lawrence was defrocked by the Anglican church in 2012 but has not been charged with any criminal offences. He is expected to give evidence when the commission reconvenes.
Bob O’Toole, of the Clergy Abused Network, said that even without Lawrence being charged, he was in enough disgrace for the matter to be legitimately debated.
In a sign of the hardening mood, sources at the prestigious Newcastle Club have confirmed that Mr Lawrence was recently dropped from a list of honorary members of the club, as a result of the Royal Commission hearings.
At least one other club member is involved in the Anglican hearings.
Mr Lawrence declined to comment when the Newcastle Herald visited him on Friday, seeking a response to the call for him to be stripped of his awards.
Mr Lawrence received an Order of Australia Medal at the Queen’s Birthday honours in June 1998 for his service to the church and the community, particularly as a fundraiser and an administrator during the restoration of Christ Church Cathedral after the 1989 earthquake.
He was made a Freeman of the City in November 2007, and retired as dean at the end of 2008.
The Herald understands that Newcastle City Council and the Australian Honours Secretariat have both been petitioned to rescind their awards to Mr Lawrence.
Both organisations declined to comment, although the honours secretariat referred the Herald to its ordinances on cancelled or terminated awards, which say the Governor-General can terminate an award if the holder “has behaved or acted in a manner that has brought disrepute on the Order”.