Lawyer for Pell denies reports he has quit

SYDNEY (AFP) – The lawyer representing disgraced Australian Cardinal George Pell denied reports yesterday he had quit amid fury at a “perverse” verdict, but his role in the appeal process remains unclear.

“I have not quit,” high profile barrister Robert Richter told AFP, adding that local media reports to the contrary were false. “I have not quit or left anything.”

Earlier Richter – who has an enviable record of courtroom victories – told The Age newspaper that he was too emotionally involved to continue to represent Pell.

The 77-year-old former Vatican number three is currently awaiting sentencing for a conviction of assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s.

Richter told The Age that Pell would be “better served by someone more detached” as he did not have “sufficient objectivity at this stage.”

File photo shows George Pell in Melbourne, Australia. – AP

“I am very angry about the verdict,” he told the newspaper, “because it was perverse”.

“I think the man is an innocent man and he’s been convicted. It’s not a common experience,” he added.

Richter declined to comment further to AFP on his status in Pell’s defence team.

But the Australian newspaper later reported that he remains an advisor to the legal team for the appeal, where he had been expected to play a less public role.

“He’s a key part of the team and Robert never quit the team,” Pell’s solicitor Paul Galbally told the newspaper, without going into further detail.