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Wednesday, 2 January, 2002, 12:01 GMT
Sex scandal threat to Queen's visit
Queen Elizabeth II
Peter Hollingworth is the Queen's representative
Child abuse victims in Australia are threatening to draw Queen Elizabeth into a row over the Queen's representative, Governor-General Peter Hollingworth.

Welfare groups want Mr Hollingworth to resign over an alleged cover-up of a sex scandal at a girls' school more than a decade ago.


The buck stops at the top

Anna Hobday, People's Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse
They are planning a series of protests during the Queen's visit to Australia in March - part of the Golden Jubilee celebrations to mark her 50-year reign.

The governor-general acts as head of state on behalf of the British monarch, who is also constitutionally Australia's head of state.

Mr Hollingworth was the Anglican archbishop of Brisbane when a teacher sexually abused students at a church-run boarding school in a city covered by his diocese.

Suicide confession

Last month he publicly denied any wrongdoing, but said lawyers for the church had told him not to make any public comments at the time of the scandal.

Also last month, a court ordered diocese to pay one of the abused students, now aged 24, $430,000 (Aus $834,000) in damages for failing to care for her.

The accused teacher, Kevin Guy, committed suicide in prison in 1990 before he could face trial. In a suicide note he admitted abusing 20 girls.

Anna Hobday of the People's Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse said Mr Hollingworth was not fit to hold office.

"The buck stops at the top and the person at the top was the now governor-general," she said.

Mr Hollingworth's official secretary, Martin Bonsey, refused to comment on the latest resignation demand, or on whether the Queen knew about the allegations.

The former clergyman was sworn in as governor-general last June. The term of office is five years.

Prime Minister John Howard has publicly backed the governor-general, describing the criticism of him as "nonsense".

See also:

21 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Howard speaks out over sex scandal
20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Sex scandal dogs Governor-General
29 Jun 01 | Asia-Pacific
Australian governor-general sworn in
03 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: Australia
03 May 01 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Australia
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