“The NSW head of the Uniting Church, Jim Mein, has been implicated in the destruction of documents relating to the sexual abuse of students at Knox Grammar School.
At a royal commission hearing on Friday, the former school council head Robert Wannan was questioned about a series of emails in 2009 regarding draft apologies from the school relating to abuse by teachers.
Mr Wannan received an email from a solicitor for the school and sent it to a number of people.
David Lloyd, counsel for the commission, said the email reached Dwane Feehley, who handled insurance for the Uniting Church.
Mr Feehley then sent an email to another person warning: “Keep an eye on this we are dealing with a range of political issues, Jim is quite a problem for us at the moment”.
Mr Wannan, who had not seen the Feehley email until just before the commission hearing on Friday, said he assumed “Jim” was Mr Mein.
The email continues: “The solicitor who drafted this is the one who had been advising the school to destroy documents, with Jim (sic) assistance.”
He denied having any knowledge about the destruction of documents.
Mr Wannan, who is a solicitor of the Supreme Court, said he did not know who (solicitor) Mr Feehley would be referring to in the second paragraph.
Mr Lloyd: “Do you deny that you were at any time involved in giving advice to Knox Grammar to destroy documents?”
Mr Wannan: “I emphatically deny that.”
He said he had never been at a meeting at which the destruction of documents was discussed and no one at Knox had ever said they destroyed documents.
A joint apology from Knox and the Uniting church was issued in December 2009.
Mr Wannan said he recalled Mr Mein had an ex-officio role on the school council because he was director of the school ministry for the church.
He also told the commission he recalled a close liaison between Mr Mein and the school.
Asked whether there was ever any suggestion Mr Mein might have destroyed documents, Mr Wannan replied: “Never, and he is not the sort of man that would consider that.”
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is continuing.”