Anglican diocese receivers take legal action against bishops

LEGAL proceedings have been brought against the former Anglican Bishop of Bathurst, Richard Hurford, and current Bishop Ian Palmer by the court-appointed receivers of the Anglican Development Fund (Bathurst diocese). 

On Tuesday a spokesperson for McGrathNicol stated that following an investigation into the affairs of the Anglican Development Fund they began legal proceedings against certain members of the ADF Board (Bathurst diocese) and related parties. 

To date they have confirmed only the names of the two Anglican bishops. 

A 15-day hearing has been set for April 2015.

McGrathNicol partners Joseph Hayes and Barry Kogan were appointed joint receivers and managers of the Anglican Development Fund (Bathurst diocese) on October 1, 2013 by orders of the Supreme Court of NSW. On October 15, 2013, final orders were made by the Supreme Court confirming the appointment. 

The spokesperson said since their appointment Mr Hayes and Mr Kogan had conducted investigations into the affairs of the ADF in the Bathurst diocese. 

“As a result of these investigations, the receivers and managers have commenced legal proceedings against certain ADF board members and various related parties,” he said.

He said the ADF was incorporated in 1999 as a fund under the Anglican Church of Australia (Bodies Corporate) Act 1938 (NSW). 

“It acted as a financial intermediary which borrowed funds from certain financiers such as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and on-lent those funds to schools, parishes, and other institutions within the Bathurst Diocese which are subject to the control of the General Synod,” the spokesperson said.

“The ADF’s activities included governing, controlling and managing those borrowings, and considering applications received for loans from approved diocesan entities," he said.

Last week Bishop Palmer said the diocese would defend itself against the application of a court order by the Commonwealth Bank to force them to sell off property bequeathed to the church or given in trust to pay off a $25 million debt. 

Bishop Palmer said such a sell-off would seriously undermine the church's ministry at every level. 

"We will be left with nothing," he said.

"We do not believe they have the right to order us. I think we have many good avenues of defence.

"It is our duty to defend those properties and gifts given to us in trust for the benefit of the community."