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Sunday, 17 February, 2002, 06:54 GMT
Governor apologises over sex scandal
Queen Elizabeth
Peter Hollingworth is the Queen's representative
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By Phil Mercer
BBC Sydney correspondent
line

Queen Elizabeth's representative in Australia, the Governor-General, Peter Hollingworth, is to apologise on national television for failing to help victims of child abuse.

Peter Hollingworth takes the oath of office as the governor-general of Australia, June 2001
Peter Hollingworth has the backing of the prime minister
Dr Hollingworth will admit that he let children down by failing to protect them while he was an Anglican archbishop and they were being sexually assaulted by priests and other members of his church.

The governor-general has been accused by family groups of covering up child sex abuse by church figures - allegations which he has strongly denied.

In the documentary, Dr Hollingworth admits that he could have done more to help the victims of abuse during his time as the Anglican archbishop of Brisbane.

He has told the national Australian broadcaster, ABC, that if the abused children felt that he let them down, then he did.

Resignation calls

His apology has not placated his critics. Family campaigners here in Australia are still demanding his resignation.

Dr Hollingworth was recently appointed by the country's conservative Prime Minister, John Howard.

His time in office has been plagued by allegations that child abuse was covered up when he was the head of the Anglican church in Brisbane.

Media reports in Australia say Dr Hollingworth appointed a priest suspected of molesting children to a sexual abuse committee set up by the church.

Inquiry

The governor-general has so far not commented on the allegation but his successor as the Archbishop of Brisbane, Phillip Aspinall, said there would be an investigation.

In December Dr Hollingworth made a statement denying any cover-up of the abuse by a former teacher at a church school, who committed suicide after being charged with indecency.

He said legal and insurance considerations had prevented him from taking a more active role in helping the victims.

The governor-general's TV apology is due to be broadcast across the country on Monday evening.

See also:

02 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Sex scandal threat to Queen's visit
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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