The night before he passed Father Bob called people where he spoke – in tears – of “dangerous frenemies” and “suits coming for me.” This was around 3am.
“I’m getting in trouble with the suits. They’re awful people,” Father Bob said in one of his last phone calls. There is no mention of this call or Father Bob’s final words, during his final weeks in A Current Affair’s recent interview with Board member Frank O’Connor.
ACA named him as “Director Frank O’Connor” in their television report. A screenshot of the broadcast on the A Current Affair website names O’Connor as ‘the director’.
The suits Father Bob refers to in the recorded (with permission) calls are suspected to be – according to five independent sources – lawyer Tony Joyce, Foundation board member Frank O’Connor and niece Peta Knights.
Lawyer Tony Joyce represented Peta Knights at VCAT, seeking to block the publication of the existence of a guardianship order and power of attorney over Father Bob.
Knights took financial control over Father Bob firstly with a Power of Attorney on October 19, 2020, and this year a guardianship order on April 3 against Father Bob’s wishes.
This masthead, Herald Sun journalist Brooke Grebert-Craig and – who joined at the last moment, The Age journalist Cameron Houston – applied to VCAT to allow publication of the orders.
Father Bob’s niece, Peta Knights, represented by lawyer Tony Joyce, fought to stop the media from publishing the existence of the power of attorney and guardianship order. In a rare occurrence, media was granted permission to publish some information.
VicNews and the Herald Sun reported on the VCAT hearing. The Age (owned by Nine), 3AW (owned by Nine) and A Current Affair (Channel 9) did not report on the VCAT hearing, despite sending journalist Cameron Houston at the last minute.
Paul Brophy, a former Board member resigned in disgust at what he described as “shady shit” going on the Foundation board over 12 months ago. VicNews has seen text messages and correspondence sent by former Foundation board member Mr Brophy.
From December 2022 until a Guardianship order was taken out by Father Bob’s niece, Peta Knights and the Foundation Board employed PR firm Michelson Alexander – after Nick Christoforou, Father Bob’s media person – was fired by the Board against Father Bob’s wishes, in December 2022.
The Foundation or Board did not announce that Mr Christoforou had been ‘made redundant’ until April 18.
This is the day Herald Sun journalist Brooke Grebert-Craig broke “Father Bob’s fury at nasty charity ouster.” Until the publication of this article, the Board – including Frank O’Connor – via the PR firm Michelson Alexander had repeatedly told the media that “no staff had been stood down.”
Former staff member Mr Christoforou told this masthead on January 4, 2023 that he had been “fired last year.” The Board – via the PR firm – said no such thing had happened. Until April 18.
Former Foundation Board members and former staff, such as Mr Christoforou & Ms Apiti were not asked for their opinion in the A Current Affair report.
Herald Sun reporter Brooke Grebert-Craig spoke to Father Bob. “Father Bob Maguire has revealed he was blindsided when he was stood down as chairman of his beloved charity,” Grebert-Craig reported on April 18.
Despite claims by the Foundation Board, Frank O’Connor and Peta Knights that “Father Bob was suffering – or had signs of – ‘dementia’,” we understand Father Bob was of sound mind.
A long-term friend of Father Bob’s – a former MICA paramedic with over 25 years of service – checked in with Father Bob only days before he passed. He told VicNews that Father Bob was “[as] sharp as a tack.”
“Typical Father Bob. Bit slower maybe. But still same old Father Bob,” the former MICA paramedic told VicNews.
“It’s all a bloody mess,” Father Bob told Grebert-Craig.
Foundation staff, made redundant by the Board following the Guardianship order, confirmed to VicNews it was Father Bob’s own “heartfelt words” and “pleas for help.”
The Father Bob Maguire Foundation, Director Frank O’Connor, board members and Peta Knights have been contacted for comment.