Pell barrister to lead special commission into Ruby Princess debacle

The Ruby Princess cruise ship will now be the subject of a special commission of inquiry led by one of Australia’s most well-known barristers.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has appointed Sydney silk Bret Walker – who successfully appealed against George Pell’s conviction in the High Court – to conduct the inquiry.

The prominent barrister known as one of Australia’s greatest legal minds will be given “extraordinary powers” to investigate all matters and agencies involved with the Ruby Princess’ departure and its return on March 19.

On that day, 2,700 passengers were allowed to disembark despite some showing symptoms of coronavirus, and when 13 were tested, their results had not been returned.

Since then, there have been fingers pointed as to who was to blame for that decision.

“It is important that answers are provided quickly for the people of NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“I have decided that the quickest path to answers is through a powerful and independent inquiry.”

Eighteen passengers have died and hundreds of cases have been connected to the ship, including some who were infected by passengers in the community.

The Ruby Princess incident has become a central incident in Australia’s COVID-19 with Attorney-General Christian Porter saying the legal fallout could be “very serious”.

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