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’60 Minutes’ outbids Pell for rights to sex abuse story

[Edition 59] While the public has reacted negatively to the Church’s attempt to buy Ridsdale’s silence, his agent has a different perspective. “We weren’t really appalled at being offered money for the story, it was just the amount on offer that got us offside.”

SYDNEY, Sunday: 60 Minutes has won a bidding war against Sydney’s Catholic Archbishop Dr George Pell over the exclusive rights to a story about sex abuse by a priest. The agent for David Ridsdale confirmed that the abuse victim had been negotiating with Dr Pell on a price for him not to tell about the molestation, but that Ridsdale had received a better offer from 60 Minutes to tell the story.

While the public has reacted negatively to the Church’s attempt to buy Ridsdale’s silence, his agent has a different perspective. “We weren’t really appalled at being offered money for the story, it was just the amount on offer that got us offside.”

“It really came down to a choice between cheque-book journalism and cheque-book confidentiality,” the agent acknowledged.
60 Minutes’ producers said they were happy to secure the Ridsdale story. “We usually pay the BBC for Richard Carleton’s stories, so this was a nice change,” said one executive. The executive said it was difficult to compete with the Catholic Church. “They’d made David a pretty attractive kiss and no-tell arrangement. But then Pell offered him an indulgence, and that kind of freaked him out.”

Ridsdale’s decision to speak to 60 Minutes has produced severely negative publicity for the Catholic Church.

It is understood that Archbishop Pell was considering engaging the PR firm used by Governor General and former Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane to help him inflame the situation by making damaging and insensitive comments.

But Pell has decided against using the firm and will instead rely on his natural capacity to handle the situation poorly.