October 12, 2018 by lucieromarin
Integroe Partners reviewed the Archdiocese of Sydney during the time of the Royal Commission. They were chosen by the Archdiocese for the job. You can find the report here. I looked through it, and, suddenly, I wondered about its authors.
Integroe, it turns out, gets about in Catholic circles, and has done so for some time. Here is a 2011 presentation given by one of their members to the Diocese of Broken Bay. Here they are again in Broken Bay, engaged to ‘facilitate the major events of the Synod.’ Here, in 2014 is co-founder and Director Kerry Brettell facilitating an Education Symposium for Mary Aikenhead Ministries. Here she is in 2015, going to be facilitator of the National Catholic Governance Program, and here she is facilitating the conference for Catholic Health Australia. She is also identified here as the Chair of Trustees at MercyCare and a Board Director with Little Company of Mary Health Care. Integroe’s other co-founder and Director, Paul Davis, became a trustee of Dominican Education Australia in 2016, the year after the above-mentioned report was submitted. I do not think that trusteeships spring from the earth like mushrooms after the rain. How early in 2015 were they discussed?
Look, I’m not the expert on where conflict of interest begins and ends. Even so, that’s a lot of Integroe in Catholic circles, and it did surprise me to find that the Archdiocese, for a purpose as grave as this, could not find a law firm a little less vulnerable to questions about possible conflict of interest.
Then, I found this 2015 article, which included a photograph of Paul Davis, Director of the Office of Safeguarding and Professional Standards in the Parramatta Diocese. I stared. I returned to the Integroe page. I stared again. Try it for yourself – copy each picture onto a new document and look at them side by side.
Are they not the same man? The thing is, both roles are current and there is no transparency anywhere about it. His LinkedIn profile is silent about his employment with the Church. The webpage of the Diocese of Parramatta has no profile for him at all.
I did find something else. Chapter 26 of Kevin Lee’s ‘Unholy Silence’ refers to the Parramatta Diocesan lawyer Paul Davis sending him a letter on behalf of the Diocese, but on Integroe letterhead. (Lee spells it ‘Intergroe.’) I don’t recommend Lee’s writing. As with my director, he forgot his people the moment he left them, and never uttered a word of apology to any of them. He was never the victim-hero – but that doesn’t mean the letterhead factoid was a lie, and his story is basically consistent with the ‘Report Commissioned by Bishops of Armidale and Parramatta into Processes Related to the Management of “F”‘, which you can find here.
Do we really think that two different men with the same names, faces and career trajectories also had access to each other’s stationery? It’s reasonable to conclude that the Director of Integroe and the Director of the Office of Safeguarding and Professional Standards in the Parramatta Diocese are the same man. We’re not talking about a lawyer whose office reviews the Church while he serves coffee in a Catholic canteen. Davis was employed to act on behalf of the Church in cases related to child abuse. Here are three letters related to his work, (is the Dianne Dawson, Acting Professional Standards Manager of the third letter also Dianne Dawson, Senior Associate at Integroe?) and here is a (very-redacted) report, submitted to the then-Bishop of Parramatta, Anthony Fisher OP.
This means that, at the time of the Royal Commission, the Archdiocese of Sydney hired, for the purpose of ‘review’, a law firm directed by a man who was a current employee of the Church, a former employee of the Archbishop from whose Archdiocese the report was to be submitted, a legal agent in a child-abuse case particular to that Archbishop’s former diocese, and a nominee for trusteeship of an education board for a branch of the religious order of which that Archbishop is a member.
The recommendations in Integroe’s report are very good. If the recipients of the report had followed them, I would have had a very different 2017. So, at the end of all this, I’m not saying that the review was ever actually compromised by conflict of interest. I’m saying that, at the very least, the choice of this firm for this purpose makes them vulnerable to accusations of conflict of interest. And that makes the Archdiocese look like it needed a yes-firm. This is desperately imprudent, and incredibly annoying to every Catholic who could have told the persons involved that it was so, because we, too, have to wear it when our leaders make mistakes. Had nobody in the entire investigation ever heard of the internet? Did no one, even for one second, imagine the headline, “Church Hires Her Own Lawyers to Investigate Herself”?