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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 12:07 GMT 13:07 UK
Hollingworth denies rape claim
Peter Hollingworth
Mr Hollingworth was already under pressure to resign

The Australian Governor-General, Peter Hollingworth, has issued a detailed denial of an allegation that he raped a woman in the 1960s.

The woman, Rosemarie Annie Jarmyn, began a compensation claim against Mr Hollingworth earlier this year, but has since died.

Mr Hollingworth, 68, said he did not know the woman and that the allegations were a case of mistaken identity.

I did not know this woman. I did not rape her.
Peter Hollingworth

"I deny absolutely that I have ever raped or in any way sexually assaulted any person," the Queen's representative said in a statement.

Mr Hollingworth is already under intense pressure to resign from his post for mishandling a series of sex abuse cases while he was the Archbishop of Brisbane in the 1990s.

The rape claim came to light after Mr Hollingworth lifted a suppression order on details of the civil case.

The plaintiff alleged that the Governor-General raped her at a Church youth camp he organised as an official of the Anglican Church's diocese in the southern city of Bendigo in late 1965 or early 1966.

A lawyer for the woman's family, Simon Morrison, said the case was still going ahead, despite the plaintiff's recent suicide.

1990-2001 - Archbishop of Brisbane
June 2001 - Appointed Governor-General
December 2001 - Allegations he mishandled sex abuse cases in 1990s
1 May 2003 - Report criticises him for conduct as Archbishop
8 May - Rape allegations become public


Mr Hollingworth's written statement, which he was shown reading on a video released to media, included a copy of the Australian Anglican Directory showing that he was never a member of the Bendigo diocese.

"I did not know this woman. I did not rape her," Mr Hollingworth said. "I did not sexually assault her. I deny absolutely that I have ever raped or in any way sexually assaulted any person."

"I can only assume that the claims against me must have been made as a result of mistaken identity," he added.

Mr Hollingworth's statement also said he was "deeply saddened to learn of the suffering in this woman's life and more recently of her tragic death".

The Governor-General was forced to deny the rape claims after the Labor opposition revealed earlier on Thursday that Mr Hollingworth's lawyers had obtained a suppression order on the court case.

The dramatic development followed the publication of a Church inquiry last week said he committed a "grave error of judgment" for failing to act appropriately in at least two cases of abuse when he was the Archbishop of Brisbane, and in particular, for allowing a known paedophile to continue working as a priest.

That report has led to calls from the Australian public, opposition, and members of the Church for Mr Hollingworth to resign as Governor-General, but Prime Minister John Howard has so far refused to ask the Queen for his dismissal.

Mr Hollingworth's statement did not include any comment on his political future. The Australian newspaper reported that he had told friends he was awaiting spiritual guidance and the return of Mr Howard to Australia later this week before deciding on it.

Acting prime minister John Anderson was "aware of the allegation and a strong statement of denial made by the governor-general", a spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald.

The spokesman said that the matter was before the courts and Mr Anderson did not intent to comment further.

Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock said that he stood by his earlier opinion that the government had no evidence to warrant dismissing Mr Hollingworth from his post.

As the representative of the Queen, whom Australia as a former British colony retains as its head of state, Peter Hollingworth performs official duties such as signing into law all legislation and swearing in governments.

Australian Governor-General Peter Hollingworth
"I did not sexually assault her"

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