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Australian Governor General to Resign - 2003-05-25

Australian Governor-General Peter Hollingworth will resign. The British Queen's personal representative in Australia has been under mounting pressure to quit since an Anglican Church report found he had ignored child abuse while Archbishop of Brisbane in the 1990s.

In the end, the controversy was too much for Peter Hollingworth. In a statement Sunday, he said "misplaced and unwarranted allegations" had made it almost impossible for him to carry out his duties.

He has been under pressure to step down since the publication of a report by Australia's Anglican Church several months ago. It criticized his decision to allow a known pedophile, now in jail, to continue working as a priest.

The pressure increased when rape allegations against him were made public a few weeks ago. A woman, who committed suicide last month, had claimed Mr. Hollingworth attacked her at a church youth camp in the 1960s. He strongly denied the accusations and the Victorian Supreme Court dismissed the case last week.

Mr. Hollingworth said he was privileged and proud to occupy the highest public position in Australia, and that he was quitting to protect the office from damage.

His resignation comes as newspaper reports in Australia say a letter from Mr. Hollingworth written in the 1990s had suggested a 14-year-old girl had initiated a relationship with an adult teacher at a church school and the case should not be considered abuse.

Senator Andrew Bartlett, an opposition politician, said the letter is another reason it was right for Mr. Hollingworth to resign. "His latest revelations, his latest actions in his latest letters to the current Archbishop of Brisbane show again that he just doesn't get it as far as child sexual assault is concerned," he said.

The Governor-General will meet Prime Minister John Howard on Monday to discuss transitional arrangements and will make full statement to the Australian people in the next few days.