Graham Rundle is living proof of the need for a royal commission into child sexual abuse in Australia.
As a child in the 1960s he was repeatedly and savagely raped in a South Australian boys’ home run by the Salvation Army, and as a man he fought and beat the Salvation Army in both criminal and civil courts.
The Salvation Army officer who raped him, William Ellis, was jailed for 16 years in 2009, after a judge described the boys’ home as ‘‘a horrific place by any standards’’.
The Salvation Army was forced to pay substantial compensation after a civil case that included a NSW Supreme Court judge, and three NSW Court of Appeal judges, describing evidence from two solicitors representing the church as ‘‘misleading’’, ‘‘disingenuous’’ and ‘‘worrying’’.
Last Friday Mr Rundle prepared for his next battle, against the office of the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner, after it withdrew professional misconduct charges against the solicitors. The commissioner withdrew the charges without advising Mr Rundle, and after an 11th-hour review of ‘‘new material’’ provided by the solicitors on the eve of a public hearing set down for December 6 and 7.
Mr Rundle’s barrister, Andrew Morrison SC, described it as ‘‘an act of manifest injustice to Graham Rundle’’.
‘‘I find it extraordinary that every time a submission has previously been made by the solicitors, Mr Rundle has been contacted, but on this occasion they did not do so and the matter was withdrawn,’’ he said.
Mr Rundle learnt about the decision after he was contacted by the Newcastle Herald, and has prepared a complaint for the Victorian Ombudsman.
‘‘Every step of the way it’s been a battle, and this is just the latest round,’’ he said. ‘‘But if they think I’m going to go away they can think again. This is not right.’’
In a statement on Friday, the office of Victorian Legal Services Commissioner Michael McGarvie confirmed he had ‘‘brought charges against [the solicitors] in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, alleging professional misconduct in respect of affidavits sworn by them and filed in a proceeding in NSW’’.
The charges were withdrawn when the solicitors provided ‘‘new information ... in late November’’, the statement said.
However, the Salvation Army said in a statement on November 8, the Legal Services Commissioner had withdrawn the charges and the solicitors had been ‘‘vindicated’’.