The author of a book on Vatican Treasurer George Pell has denied its publication before sexual offence charges against the senior cleric prejudiced his case.
Release of the book by author Louise Milligan, a journalist with Australian Broadcasting Corp, just two months before charges were laid against Pell last year for historical sexual offences may have prejudiced his case, a court heard on Tuesday.
Entering the final week of hearings to decide whether the Australian cardinal will face trial, the author of 'Cardinal:The Rise and Fall of George Pell', denied she had interfered with the course of justice by rushing publication of her book.
Pell's lawyer Robert Richter accused Milligan and her publishers Melbourne University Press of speeding up publication of the book by two months to May 2017 when they were aware charges against Pell were due to be announced in June.
Otherwise publication of the book, originally scheduled forJuly, would have been blocked, he said. Milligan said she had no idea that there was any plan to charge Pell in June, but that her publisher wanted to get the book out because it was "timely".
Richter told the Melbourne Magistrates' Court that Milligan had used 'character assassination' in her book, associating Pell's name with other priests who had been accused of abuse and accepting some allegations made by some accusers at face value.
Pell is the most senior Catholic worldwide to be accused of sexual offences. Details of the charges associated with multiple complainants have not been made public.
Pell's lawyers have said he will plead not guilty to all charges. He is not required to enter a plea unless the magistrate determines there is cause for a full trial.