Morag Stewart/Bellingham (1988, 1989, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004-2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012-2013, 2016, 2017)
Cornelia Frances; Eve Kelman (Young Morag, 1989); Vanessa Goddard (Morag Aged 11, 1989); Phebie Taylor-Bush (Young Morag, 2010)
Episodes: 102-108; 121-125; 161-162; 241-435; 1307-1348; 3073-3088; 3393-3429; 3621-3634; 3722-3735; 3818-3824; 3832-4340; 4355-4356; 4498-4510; 4557; 4561-4737; 4776-4782; 4907-4963, 5108; 5216-5350; 5438-5525; 5656-5664; 6371-6384; 6628-6645
Date of Birth: 1948
Parents: Gordon & Sarah Stewart (both deceased)
Siblings: Alf, Barbara, Celia & Debra Stewart; Colleen Smart (half)
Marital Status: Richard Bellingham (divorced); Ross Buckton (2008-2011, deceased)
Children: Bobby Simpson (deceased)
Step Children: Charlie (deceased) & Ruby Buckton
Occupation: Barrister; Judge
Morag was first heard of before she was seen in Summer Bay when her niece Roo contacted her to ask her to dig up dirt on Alf’s new fiancé Ailsa Hogan. Morag’s detective skills turned up a dark secret from Ailsa’s past, that she had killed her father.Her first actual appearance in the bay came when she arrived in town for Roo’s wedding to Frank. It was clear from the outset that Morag had a special interest in her niece, with Celia worrying that she would be a bad influence and believing that Morag wanted to take Roo away from her family and have her all to herself. Not including Roo, Morag had a general dislike for Summer Bay and the people in it – including her own family. She described Summer Bay as a backwater and believed herself to be “better” than the place. She also took an instant dislike to Alf’s new wife Ailsa (a feeling that was mutual).
When Roo’s dress was destroyed she offered to buy her a new one but made her disapproval of Frank very plain, she didn’t think he was good enough for Roo. Brett Macklin on the other hand, came from just the ideal family so when he confided in Morag that he was the real father of Roo’s baby she decided to do all in her power to help him and Roo reunite. She tried her utmost to convince Roo not to go through with the wedding and, though initially reluctant, Roo eventually came clean and Frank promptly dumped her. Roo moved in with Morag in the aftermath of her failed wedding but when Morag helped Brett Macklin con her into signing her unborn baby away she turned against her.
Morag returned briefly in 1988 for Alan Fisher’s funeral, where she and Roo appeared to have patched things up (and plotted to permanently separate Alf and Ailsa), but relations with the rest of the town remained hostile. During this time we also saw the first appearance of Colleen and Morag together, where it was established that they went to school together and had never gotten along very well. After reading the contents of Alan’s will, Morag returned to the city.Morag turned up next in a series of flashbacks when it was revealed by Alf that she was Bobby’s birth mother. Alf went to see her to try and talk her into getting to know Bobby but Morag was adamant she didn’t want to know. A few days later though, she arrived in the bay for Bobby’s wedding but coldly informed Alf that she was only there to prove to herself that she felt nothing for Bobby. She was proven to be a liar though when, on watching Bobby’s wedding from a distance, she ran out and tearfully broke down on the beach. Alf later received news that the seaplane Morag was on had crashed and she was critically ill in hospital. Whilst Morag lay in a coma, Alf revealed the truth to Bobby about the identity of her real mother leading Bobby to utter the immortal line ‘I hope nothing happens to her… because I want to tell her just how much I hate her.’ Thanks to local troublemaker Alison, who had it in for Bobby, the story made the front page of the newspapers. When Morag finally came round, one of the first people she saw was Bobby who greeted her with ‘Hello mother dear’ and then proceeded to lay into her. Later Morag received a visitor from Don Fisher who asked Morag if he was Bobby’s father and in a series of flashbacks it was revealed that Fisher was Bobby’s father.
With the news about Bobby now public knowledge, Morag was dumped by husband Richard and moved in with Celia in her Fathers old house while work began on her new mansion. She also struck a deal with The Macklins to buy the caravan park from Tom and Pippa in return for them ruining Bobby. A series of letters had been received by Ailsa and Bobby and the finger of suspicion was pointing firmly at Roo. Morag realised though that the real culprit was Nicholas, working for The Macklins and though she initially warned him off, she later changed her mind and asked him to continue to frame Roo so that everyone would turn against her except Morag, allowing Morag to win her trust. Her plan worked when Alf and Ailsa kicked her out and she moved in with Morag. Morag then attempted to set her up with Nicholas but that came to an abrupt halt when he was forced out of the bay by Stacey.With the mansion now ready Morag and Roo moved in and promptly held a housewarming party, where Morag, furious that Bobby slagged her off on live TV, plotted to get her revenge. Her plan though was foiled when Steven, listening in on a hidden microphone on Lance’s coat, overheard Morag and Roo discussing it and instructed Lance to create a disturbance, which he did.
Unbelievably though we did begin to see a softer side to Morag when she confided to Nigel, her blind butler that her husband Richard was infertile which was the reason she hated Bobby so much. She later appeared to be going mad, doing strange things such as moving the furniture about to confuse Nigel but they soon made things up and Nigel continued to help her with writing her novel.
A break in soon occurred at Morag’s mansion and the manuscripts from her novel were stolen. Though the police recovered the thief they could not find the manuscripts which had been found by an unsuspecting Sally and handed to Bobby. Bobby eventually hands the manuscripts back but not before taking a copy. Roo who had fallen out with Morag, after Morag destroyed her relationship with Simon, was also in on the plan.
Bobby eventually gave the manuscripts back, along with a piece of her mind and with Morag having upset both Roo and Celia and gotten an earful from Alf, she was later seen sobbing alone in her house. After inviting just about everyone in the bay for dinner and having them all decline her invitations Morag settled down to eat alone. Meanwhile Fisher confided in Bobby that he was worried about her and Bobby went round to Morag’s only to find her unconscious. After being released from hospital she begrudgingly accepted Ailsa’s invitation to live with her and even more grudgingly accepted Marilyn as her new housekeeper. Surprisingly though, Morag and Marilyn got along fairly well even going so far as to cook sausages together on an open fire during a power cut. She even helped babysit Christopher so Pippa could go out and look for Tom who went missing during a storm.
She taught Marilyn etiquette and convinced Roo to follow her heart over Frank. She briefly gained another house guest when Ailsa, struggling with post natal depression following the birth of her son Duncan, moved in with her. Morag seemed to undergo a personality transplant for a while but that changed when she started receiving threatening letters. A newspaper cutting about herself and Bobby was planted in her office with a knife put through it and Morag convinced herself that Bobby was to blame. After a furious row with Bobby, Morag agreed to help Ross and Louise Keating get custody of Sally from Tom and Pippa.
She received flowers from her husband Richard but when she phoned him, thinking he wanted a reconciliation, she was left rejected. After Marilyn left to take a job as a quiz show host she was left alone and offered Danny Farnham, a new guy in town, who had befriended her, a room in her house. Danny willingly moved in and Morag commented that it was nice to have someone to discuss intelligent things with. They discussed the death penalty and Danny pointed out that it could mean innocent people dying but Morag insisted that all the sentences she had handed out were fair. Danny was seen picking up a poker and going to hit her but flashing lights outside the window stopped him.
Morag received a series of phone calls where nobody was at the other end and a box of chocolates containing a spider, her greatest fear. She called the police to report everything but they told her there was little they could do. After rumours began to spread about Morag and Danny dating, Morag asked him to move out but Danny took a copy of her house key before he left. She asked Celia to move in with her but Celia concocted a burglar alarm which Alf unwittingly set off, half terrifying Morag who insisted that Celia move out again. Morag came home the next day to find what looked like a dead body hanging from the ceiling but when she returned with Alf and Ailsa, the body had gone. Alf and Ailsa thought she needed psychiatric help but another silent phone call convinced her that she wasn’t going mad and she asked Danny to move back in.
She was upset to hear that he was going out with Bobby again and her lectures almost caused him to move out but another piece a graffiti appeared on the side of her house causing Morag to beg him to stay. After more lectures he did move out, leaving Morag with a guard dog and increased bitterness towards Bobby but a lecture from Fisher convinced her not to push everyone away. She went to Danny’s caravan intending to apologise but instead found newspaper clippings of a case she had presided over. Back at home she made some phone calls and found out that the man in the newspaper clippings had maintained his innocence but had eventually committed suicide and she found out that his surviving son was in fact Danny.
She set Danny up by inviting him, Fisher and Bobby to dinner and instigating a mock trial whereby she had Danny play himself and in her role as Judge she outed him for his torment towards her. When it became clear that Danny was unhinged, Fisher and Bobby softened towards him but Morag continued to turn the knife, causing Danny to flee town and Bobby and Fisher to blame Morag.
With the whole town turning against her Morag lashed out at Bobby, insisting that she had set Roo and Frank up to that Bobby would be dumped. With Ailsa, Alf, Celia and everybody else laying into her, Morag made plans to leave town but when she returned to her house she found it trashed and received another threatening phone call. She called the police and told them everything but when Fisher and Bobby refused to back her up, the police left her to it. She received another eerie phone call and with no-one to turn to, returned home to pack her suitcase but as she took it from the cupboard, Danny appeared and pushed her into it, locking her in.
He kept her imprisoned in the house for several days but when Sally tipped Fisher and Bobby off, they broke into Morag’s house and found that Danny was imprisoning her. Fisher pretended to be Danny’s father to convince the disturbed boy to release her which he duly did. When the police failed to charge Danny over his actions and the rest of the town made it clear that they thought she deserved everything she got, Morag packed her bags once more. She told Alf and Ailsa she was glad to be leaving but was seen crying as she drove away from town.
Morag wasn’t seen again until after Bobby’s death in 1993, when she arrived to attend the funeral. Donald criticised her for her frosty exterior during Bobby’s funeral, but Morag did express some regret over her treatment of Bobby and insisted she had learned from her evil ways and had turned over a new leaf. During her stay, Morag formed a close friendship with Sam, and managed to convince him to forgive Adam, who the whole town held responsible for Bobby’s death. She manipulated her way into being offered custody by Donald. Ailsa was the only one who didn’t trust Morag’s motives, with even Alf insisting she was wrong about her suspicions. At the last minute Ailsa proved, using her phone bill, that Morag had been calling a private school in the city from the moment she arrived in town, thus had been plotting to get Sam from day one. Sam then revealed that Morag had told him that if he stayed with Donald any longer it would cause Donald to have a heart attack. Outraged at hearing all this, Alf ordered Morag to leave and never come back.
Being disowned by Alf, Morag wasn’t seen and rarely mentioned again until 2001 when she made a surprise appearance as the judge in Kane Phillips’ trial. Forced to be back in Summer Bay, Morag didn’t mingle much with the residents but did manage to make enemies of the Sutherlands by more or less forcing the jury in the trial into a non-guilty verdict. However, Morag’s return wasn’t fully in vain. She befriended Duncan, who following Ailsa’s death was becoming increasingly distant from Alf, and convinced him to come and live with her in the city. They carried out a plot in which Duncan upset as many of the townsfolk as possible so that Alf would allow it. Alf saw through the plan but, on realising it was what Duncan wanted, he agreed. She may have failed with Roo and Sam, but this time Morag got what she wanted and left the Bay with a friend.
A year later Morag returned with a very out-of-control Duncan. It seems her hands-off approach to parenting was not what the off-the-rails Duncan needed and Alf was shocked by how far downhill Duncan had gone since living with Morag. Nonetheless, Morag and Alf’s relationship was gradually mending, and over the course of several more returns on Morag’s part, a real brother/sister relationship was forming.
When Alf appeared to be developing Alzheimer’s, Fisher reluctantly decided to contact Morag as his next of kin, bringing her back to town. Morag was still unpopular after her part in Kane’s acquittal and received a less than warm welcome, especially when she took control of the Diner and started ordering Leah and Colleen about. Morag took an instant dislike to Angie Russell, who she believed wasn’t suitable to be a teacher. She dug into Angie’s past and found out that, despite her claims, she had never been married – and also realised she remember her from a case she presided over, in which she was accused of molestation. She even went as far as approaching Shelley as a potential ally, only to be turned down, and claimed (incorrectly) that Dylan wasn’t Angie’s son. With a race night being arranged at the surf club, Morag agreed to let Colleen make her a hat for the event but when she saw the result she refused to wear it. Shelley wore it instead and, when she was nearly run down, it was speculated that Morag had been the target. The driver involved then turned up dead and Morag accused Angie of being responsible. Angie forced Jesse to give her an alibi, then Morag had her car vandalised and was attacked by a ruffian, being rescued by Noah. She accused Angie and Jesse so Angie threatened to sue her for defamation of character and Morag had to come up with a counter suit to get her to back off.
Morag attempted to gain control of Alf’s finances on the grounds he was mentally unfit to manage himself and arranged a competency hearing but Alf halted the scheme by giving Fisher power of attorney instead. Still determined to have a say in Alf’s future, Morag approached Leah and persuaded her to sell her share of the Diner. When Leah changed her mind, Morag pointed out she had signed an agreement and couldn’t back out. However, Alf and Fisher made it clear that, if she tried to force the deal, they would sell Leah Alf’s share of the Diner for a ridiculously low amount. Morag reluctantly agreed to give up her claim.
Alf’s condition had now deteriorated to the point where he believed Ailsa was somehow with him. When Morag confronted Alf in the flat over his plans to bring Duncan back to live with him, Alf pushed her down the stairs and then claimed Ailsa had done it, leaving Morag hospitalised for a few days. Morag insisted Alf was incapable of living on his own and tried to persuade Fisher to put him in a home but agreed that he could move in with Fisher and Seb instead. After Alf had gone walkabout in the bush, he was hospitalised and it was discovered he actually had a brain tumour. Morag visited him one last time before leaving town and, when he asked her if she loved him, admitted she did. She was then reduced to tears again when she realised he thought she was Ailsa.
Ironically, Morag found herself acting as judge when Dani was accused of trying to kill Kane. Visiting Summer Bay prior to the trial, she instantly found herself involved in chastising Alf for smashing up Noah’s bike (to avoid the prediction of Seb’s death he’d seen), being lobbied by Alex for information on steroid abuse and voicing her opinion on Leah’s plans to be a surrogate. She seemed more sympathetic towards Dani than on their last encounter but, when the jury found her guilty, she followed procedure and sentenced her to three years. When Colleen tried to take her to task about it, she maintained she had simply done her job but also conceded the law had let Dani down for a second time. She went to see Dani’s lawyer David and offered him a few pointers as to how to launch an appeal, implying her behaviour outside court may have made her an inappropriate judge, as well as making pointed remarks to Kane and Kirsty about their part in things.
During the same visit, Morag involved herself in Josh West’s attempts to make money from selling recently feral Tasha’s story. Morag found Josh’s interest in the underage girl to be inappropriate and had no second thoughts about telling him so and also bringing up his history of council corruption. Unfortunately for her, naïve Tasha wasn’t happy about Morag insulting someone she considered to be a friend and pushed her into a swimming pool.
Morag returned to town around the same time as Duncan and attended Hayley and Robbie’s joint birthday party. As the event descended into chaos as a result of Duncan inviting his unsavoury city friends and spiking the punch, Morag refused to acknowledge that he was in any way responsible, although her own attempts to control the party were met with derision and a telling off from the police, until he stole a car and ended up sending it over a cliff with Seb and Jade inside, leaving Seb confined to a wheelchair. Furthermore, when she learned Dani was being stalked, Morag took it upon herself to accuse Kane of being responsible only for Alf to step in and tell her that a lot of people in town had been doing their best to build bridges between Kane and the Sutherland family and she was threatening to wreck it. She also misunderstood Kim’s request for help in getting access to his presumed son Charlie and instead contested paternity, causing rifts between him and Charlie’s mother Brooke. She even managed to upset Leah and was forced to take over her shift in the Diner to make up for it. With all her actions only seeming to make matters worse, Morag was reduced to tears again as she accepted that she had failed with Duncan and not given him proper boundaries. She left him behind in Summer Bay with Alf as she returned to the city.
From then on, Morag began to soften somewhat and the first indication of her becoming the town’s favourite legal adviser came when Irene asked for her help when Josie Russell sought custody of Tasha, after Morag had arrived in town to assist with Alf selling Irene the Diner. Morag went to see Josie and made her position clear but, when Josie backed down straightaway, she was left disappointed that the victory had come so easily and also suspicious that there was more to it and vowed to stay on the case and learn the truth. With Duncan now living in New York with Roo, Morag was beginning to feel lonely and so decided to move to Summer Bay and stay at Alf’s flat, although she wasn’t above evicting Kim so she could have his room. She did some digging and uncovered the fact that Tasha’s father was millionaire Ian Osbourne. When she confronted Josie with the information, she learned Josie had worked with him to install cameras at Irene’s place so he could watch her and see what she was like. Although unhappy about the situation, Morag recognised Josie was just trying to safeguard Tasha’s inheritance and agreed to work with her. When Josie told her Ian had ordered her to break up Tasha and Robbie, they both agreed things had gone far enough and Morag met with Ian’s assistant Stafford, who shared their concerns, telling him Ian had a week to get rid of the security cameras and meet with her in person. However, she was pulled up short when Sally started doing some digging of her own and realised someone had been secretly providing a helping hand to the town’s residents, suspecting it was Morag. Morag called Irene, Josie, Sally and Flynn together at Irene’s house, knowing Ian was watching them, and told them everything that was going on, forcing Ian to agree to meet with Irene and put an end to the observation.
With the town now having a solicitor on hand, she was called upon to advise the Hunters when Henry was falsely accused of setting fire to the surf club kiosk, telling them a confession was his only chance of avoiding a criminal record. Another early client was Dani, who asked for her help in granting parole to a dying friend from prison. Morag was shocked when the woman turned out to be Viv Standish, an old girlfriend of Alf’s, and told Alf what was going on. Morag arranged for Viv to be transferred to a hospital near Summer Bay and granted day release. When Alf learnt that Viv had had his son and given him up for adoption, Morag counselled caution, given his previous track record with his children, but agreed to help track him down. In the end Alf learnt without her help that the son was the recently deceased Owen Dalby, making Ric his grandson. With Ric accused of being responsible for Owen’s death, Morag reluctantly offered her services to him for free at Alf’s request, without telling him of their family connection, but was left unimpressed by their first meeting and advised Alf to stay away from him. Ric ended up fleeing town without learning the medical report had cleared him and Morag helped organise the search for him, heading back to the city for a while.
The experience with Ric caused Morag to offer pay Kane’s $10,000 bail money when he was wrongly accused of an armed robbery that had been committed by his father, on the grounds he reminded her of Ric. She also agreed to represent him but held out little hope of an acquittal unless they could discredit the eye witness against him, an associate of his father’s. She reluctantly went along with his request to move the trial forward to avoid stress on Kirsty and even agreed to help his brother Scott with his appeal in return for testifying for them. Unfortunately Kane turned out to be a bit too similar to Ric and, when the court case went badly and Scott lied on the stand, he and Kirsty went on the run. He was pronounced guilty in his absence and Morag lost her bail bond, lamenting the fact Kirsty and Kane had thrown their lives away.
When Ric reappeared, Morag broke the news to him that he had been cleared of all charges and encouraged Alf to tell him the truth about their relationship. After making a trip to the States to see an injured Roo, Morag also gained a great-niece when Martha came to stay in town. She also returned to the news Marc Edwards had been arrested as the Summer Bay Stalker and instantly expressed her doubts of his guilt. Josie then confided in her that she also believed Marc was innocent but she couldn’t tell the police without their becoming suspicious about something she did in 1989, which Marc knew about. Morag advised her to keep quiet and let the police work it out themselves but did agree to ask Peter some hypothetical questions after Sally also thought the Stalker was still at large and had attacked her. However, when Marc subsequently died, Morag became suspicious of Josie and the tension between Josie and Martha, over the latter dating Jesse, didn’t help. Josie was angry when Morag told Peter about their conversation and Morag even ended up in an argument with Tasha over the feud. It didn’t stop her expressing her own disapproval over Martha and Jesse’s relationship, however.
Morag attempted to move her business to a new premises in Summer Bay but was outbid for the office and shocked to learn that the new owners were the Macklin Corporation. Martha’s father Brett also returned, revealing the Macklin Corporation once again interested in developing the area. It was a mark of how much Morag had changed that she instantly set herself up in opposition to her former allies and uncovered the extent of the development and that they were planning to use the caravan park. She found her current allies a bit of a hindrance however, as Jesse broke into Josie Russell’s flat, on learning she was the resort manager, and punched Brett, finally breaking all ties with him when he seemingly firebombed the Macklin office (and probably because he broke up with Martha) and helping Alf sell Jesse’s share of Noah’s Bar from under him. She also had to deal with Robbie, Tasha and Martha chaining themselves up at the site. She decided her best bet was to discredit Josie and decided to find out exactly what did happen in 1989. She discovered Josie had killed a client in self-defence while working as a brothel madam and encouraged the police officer who had covered it up, Jim Wallace, to go public, telling Josie she would go to the police if she didn’t stop the development. Josie insisted it was out of her hands and begged Morag to trust her but Morag told Peter all she knew. However, before he could confirm her story Jim turned up dead, possibly suicide. In the end, it turned out Josie had been working against Brett all along and managed to expose his plan to turn Summer Bay into a toxic waste dump.
Morag helped Martha and Tasha with their plans to organise a surprise party for Alf’s 60th birthday and was reunited with several family members when a group of former residents came to town for the celebration. She was soon back bickering with Celia and defending Duncan, especially when circumstantial evidence suggested he was responsible for the car crash that killed Chloe Richards. Morag was proved correct in her belief in Duncan’s innocence and Jesse McGregor was revealed to be responsible. Even though Martha had been badly injured in the crash, she managed to persuade Morag to represent him. Meanwhile, Irene was seeking custody of Chloe’s daughter Olivia and Morag agreed to help her. As was starting to become a habit, Morag lost the case but the result was later overturned by the stipulations of Chloe’s will.
Morag was asked by Kim to help track down his mother when Barry proved oddly uncooperative. Morag realised that a key Kim had found among Barry’s possessions came from a safety deposit box and, when the box was found to be empty, persuaded the security guard to help her get the evidence that Barry had recently removed it. She went to Barry’s office and found a letter that he had taken from the box, in which he confessed he had accidentally killed his wife after finding her trying to drown Kim. Morag agreed to keep quiet about what she’d learned and told Kim she had taken on a big case and could no longer help him. She had an awkward first encounter with Jack when he gave her a parking ticket for leaving her car outside her office, only to learn that the area had been rezoned as a loading area and Jack was actually correct. She was surprised when Flynn asked for her help in making a will and advised him to involve Sally.
She then found herself set against Josh West, who framed Alf for embezzlement in order to beat him a mayoral election. She nearly discovered the details of his mysterious Project 56 when Amanda Vale faxed them to her but repeatedly failed to view the fax, allowing Josh to steal it, by which point he’d threatened Amanda into keeping quiet. Morag became convinced there was a link between the pair and was willing to help Dan apply for custody of Ryan in order to shake Amanda up. She discovered a link between Amanda and the company in charge of construction but Amanda and Josh insisted it was innocent. She was also suspicious of Amanda’s relationship with Graham Walters and supported Beth’s belief that Amanda was after his money. When she learned the developers were planning to buy up several houses including Leah’s, Morag went to Amanda’s flat managed to get hold of a USB stick containing details of the project but was knocked unconscious by Josh and his associate Amanda Vale before she could view it and left with no proof. She asked Amanda to come and see her in hospital and gave her a chance to tell her the truth but Amanda refused. Incensed, Morag discharged herself from hospital and went round to confront Graham, who had given Amanda a false alibi, and then made a fool of herself by hurling accusations at Josh in the surf club.
She still found time for other business, advising Robbie on how to get rid of the Believers, chastising Martha for going undercover with them and trying to get Ric into Reefton Lakes when he was expelled from Summer Bay High only for him to decide to leave school anyway. She then approached Amanda’s husband Graham Walters and used the fact Josh and Amanda were having an affair and Amanda had been taking money from the account he’d set up for a “stage school” to persuade him to help her. However, Graham then suffered a series of strokes that left him brain dead. Morag again failed to win a case, albeit against a corrupt judge, by failing to get Graham’s family permission to terminate his life support and then failing to clear Alf of the embezzlement charges and was also forced to admit defeat when the Hunters wanted to contest the will leaving Graham’s estate to Amanda. When several residents were told their homes were being compulsorily sold to the developers by council order, Morag plotted the area and released Project 56 was actually part of a plan to build a highway through Summer Bay. She tried to prove that Josh was financially involved with the project, making his approving it illegal, but her flat was broken into and the small amount of evidence she had retrieved was stolen. On the morning construction was due to start, Josh was found shot dead in his office and some confidential files proving his involvement were left on Morag’s windscreen, allowing her to shut the project down.
Morag didn’t get much let up as most of her family were suspects in Josh’s murder, notably Ric and Martha, and Morag herself tried to hide the fact that she had paid a private detective, Bob Radcliffe, to spy on Josh. She was then contacted by Bob Radcliffe, who told her he had seen Josh’s killer at the office and offered to sell her the photos. Morag went to the police, who listened in on her conversation with Bob, but he spotted her wearing a wire and bolted, disappearing soon afterwards. Then Morag realised that some files relating to Barry’s past had been stolen from her office. She called Barry to the house where he admitted he had gone to Josh’s office where Josh had pulled a gun on him and it had gone off during a scuffle, and also that he had bribed Bob to leave town. Morag had arranged for Peter and Jack to listen in on the conversation, resulting in Barry’s arrest, but, feeling bad about the way things had gone, she also offered him her services, managing to get him bail and get the charges reduced to manslaughter.
Morag was among those who suffered minor injuries when Jack and Martha’s wedding reception blew up. While she was in hospital, fellow patient Belle introduced her and some of the other residents to her grandmother Kitty Lansdowne. When Morag saw Kitty talking to Amanda not long afterwards, she was instantly suspicious and confronted Amanda about it, only to learn that Kitty was actually Amanda’s mother, which led to Amanda discovering that Belle was her daughter. Her services were once again requested when Robbie was discovered to have been the one to turn off Graham’s life support machine several months previous. She attempted to challenge the law in the matter but was unable to stop Robbie being given a guilty verdict; however, he escaped jail thanks to a sympathetic judge.
When Martha started dating new police officer Ash Nader, Morag became suspicious of him and wrongly suspected he was working for local criminal Johnny Cooper. The truth turned out to be simpler: Ash had a wife and family in the city. Morag learned the truth when she ran into them after they dropped by town for an unexpected visit but, when she told Martha, she carried on seeing Ash anyway. When Morag told the rest of the family, an angry Martha called her an interfering old woman. Morag was upset by the accusations and decided she’d had enough of Summer Bay, going back to the city to take up her old post as a judge. She made a brief return to defend Ric when he was accused of Rocco Cooper and, once again, failed to save him from a spell in jail. Soon after, she and Alf travelled to Nigeria to look after Celia, who had fallen in.
After being absent from Summer Bay for most of 2007, she returned for Sally’s abortive wedding to Brad Armstrong. While there, she became curious about Jazz Curtis’ attempt to persuade her son Drew to give her some of the money his grandmother had left him. She offered Drew her services and managed to expose the fact that Jazz had known about the will for months and had been manipulating Drew so he would sympathise with her. She also took the time to defend Cassie, who had been accused of driving under the influence of drugs, and for once actually managed a partial acquittal.
She returned again at the beginning of 2008 for Ric’s 20th birthday and expressed her desire to settle in Summer Bay again. She moved in with Martha in the flat above the Diner but soon after the building was condemned and they were forced to move in with Martha’s new boyfriend Roman Harris. She also had to deal with the discovery that long-term sparring partner Colleen Smart was her half-sister, with the idea of having her in the family filling her with dread.
Then Jack’s new wife Sam turned up dead on the beach and Jack and Martha were chief suspects. Morag quickly stepped in to defend them and learned that the investigating officer was a retiring detective named Ross Buckton, who she had had an affair with nearly twenty years previous shortly after her marriage broke up. Morag correctly theorised that Sam had committed suicide in order to frame the pair and persuaded Ross to hold off on charging them for twenty-four hours while she found evidence, employing Roman and a team of divers to search for Sam’s boat. In the end, Ross found the boat himself and Jack tracked down a witness who corroborated the story. Morag was annoyed, however, when Martha promptly broke up with Roman and got back with Jack, insisting they were wrong for each other.
She was somewhat surprised when Aden Jefferies approached her for help, after Annie had accused him of sexually assaulting her. Intrigued despite his brusque manner, she involved herself in the case and correctly guessed Annie was lying because Aden had always given her and Geoff a hard time, helping to get her to drop the charges (although she refused to represent Aden when he tried to sue Irene for assault). She took an interest in Aden, as did Roman, sensing there was a good person underneath the constant hostility. When Roman offered Aden a place to stay and his daughter Nicole also moved in with them, Morag decided to stay on at the house despite Martha moving out, feeling Roman wouldn’t be able to handle them on his own.
Despite the unfortunate circumstances of their reunion, Morag and Ross continued spending time together. Morag was asked to review the new Diner for a local paper and took Ross for a meal there, only for Colleen, convinced that newspaper editor Gavin, also in attendance, was the critic, to spend all her time with him and virtually ignore them. After the meal, Morag explained the truth to the staff and told them she was giving the food top marks but not the service. She and Ross later went back there on a date, only for Colleen to invite herself along with a friend to keep an eye on her newly discovered sister. Morag eventually grew tired of Colleen sitting as close to them as possible and constantly chipping in and told her she was nothing to do with her. However, being reminded of Morag’s sharp tongue gave Ross pause. Morag decided to mend her ways by inviting Colleen, Martha and Jack, along with Alf, Ric and Matilda, to the house and apologising for her recent attitude towards them.
Morag was distracted by the reappearance of Kane, who was revealed to have been stealing to support his family whilst on the run, culminating in him committing an armed robbery in which security guard Larry Jefferies was badly injured. Despite the unfortunate outcome for both of them during her last attempt, Morag stepped in to defend him but failed to save him from jail.
Despite their early setback, her romance with Ross continued, with her even deigning to join him on a fishing trip. Her world was well and truly jolted when his daughters Charlie and Ruby came to town, with vastly differing reactions on first meeting her: Charlie booked her for a driving offence while Ruby hugged her in the middle of the surf club. The fact that Ross was only recently widowed, although he claimed he and his wife had lived separate lives for years, caused a lot of tension but ultimately both girls were bridesmaids when Morag and Ross married in a quiet ceremony at the surf club.
When they returned from their honeymoon though, it was clear all wasn’t well and Morag admitted that Ross had begun behaving oddly, forgetting things and getting lost. She persuaded him to go for a check-up and he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Charlie took charge of the situation and moved Ross in with her and Ruby, shutting Morag out. Morag’s life was further complicated by the fact Aden had been charged with kidnap and attempted murder in her absence. Although she initially claimed she was too busy to help him, she took over the case when he fired his barrister and her sensitive questioning helped him tell the court about his abuse, earning a partial acquittal. By then, Ross had seen the effect his condition was having on Charlie and Ruby so he decided to move to the city to get specialist help rather than let them see him deteriorate, with Morag going with him.
Morag returned at the beginning of 2009 for Jack’s funeral, where she told Martha she was wrong about them not being right for each other. When Alf’s new girlfriend Bridget was exposed as a con artist who had lied about having cancer, Morag went to confront her at the police station and tell her she was going to make sure she was punished, only to realise she’d misread the situation when, instead of being angry at Bridget, Alf simply felt he’d been a fool to be taken in by her.
Morag returned to town again, this time with Ross, for Aden and Belle’s wedding. After the service, they received the twin shocks that Charlie had suffered a minor injury after being hit by a car and that she was dating Angelo. However, the biggest shock came when Doctor Young mentioned Charlie had a caesarean scar. Although Ross and Charlie tried to cover, Morag overheard them talking and confronted them about the fact Charlie had had a child in front of Ruby, only for Charlie to retort she’d had a son who had died. Ross later let slip to Morag that the baby had been adopted but she kept quiet about it until it was revealed that Ruby was the child and Charlie had been raped by her boyfriend. Events proved too much for Ross and, when he saw Ruby arguing with Xavier, he thought he was Charlie’s rapist and tried to attack him, hitting Morag when she intervened. The incident persuaded Ross to check himself into a care home in the city.
With Ross needing a few weeks to settle in, Morag ended up moving back in with Aden, who was struggling to cope following Belle’s death. Initially he resented her presence but later he changed his mind and cooked her an apology dinner. When Charlie and Ruby told her that Ruby had got in touch with her biological father Grant and Charlie had kidnapped him in order to show Ruby his true colours, Morag advised them not to tell Ross. Then Grant was found stabbed to death and Morag’s legal skills were in much demand as Detective Robertson treated the entire family, including Morag herself, as suspects. In the end Ross admitted he had killed Grant while ordering him to stay away from the family and, as he was charged, Morag accompanied him to the city to await the next step in the legal process.
Morag returned to town after Ross’ death to defend Alf on a murder charge and got him bail by offering to move to Summer Bay to keep an eye on him. She reacted badly to the news of Nicole’s pregnancy, feeling it would give Alf a motive. She attempted to use the fact Nicole would have a motive in Alf’s defence but he refused to let her, so she threatened to put Lily on the stand instead. Will later took her for a drive and told her Alf didn’t kill Penn, before abandoning her by the side of the road and skipping town. She contacted Charlie and Robertson but Robertson refused to budge over the charges until Will was found and confessed. She wasn’t keen on Alf’s plan to go backpacking but agreed to support him. She stayed in town, taking over Alf’s affairs.
She advised Nicole over her pregnancy and the deal to have Marilyn and Sid adopt the baby, telling them that the contract to buy the baby was illegal. She tried to sit in on their negotiations but Nicole told her to stay out of it, prompting Morag to accuse her of secretly wanting to keep the baby. She was concerned when Elijah returned with his new wife Grace and stepson Thabo and quickly realised he had married Grace so Thabo could have medical treatment in Australia but agreed there was no point telling anyone about it and befriended Grace. She supported Grace after Thabo’s death and told Elijah he needed to be there for her. Although she tried to help them when Immigration came calling, she refused to lie for them.
She was irritated by Colleen’s reluctance to move out of the house when her home was ready, after her abduction by Brodie Upton, but stepped in and encouraged her to seek counselling, accompanying her to a victim support group. She encouraged Nicole to go on a date with Angus McCathie and was suspicious of Roo when she returned to town, thinking she was running from something, and told her she had to stay in one of the caravans because the house was full. She then had a go at her for spending the night in Miles’ bed, saying she’d get a reputation, and for making an unfortunate remark about Nicole’s pregnancy. Despite her reservations, she supported Nicole’s desire to have Roo at the birth and had a go at Marilyn when she complained about Nicole defying her, pointing out Nicole was doing something special for her. When she learned Marilyn had banned Nicole from seeing George, she encouraged her to stand up for herself.
She agreed to give Romeo a trial running a boat charter business on the Blaxland and she and Roo joined him for a trip. She realised Romeo’s deckhand, Billy McVeigh, was the person who had assaulted Elijah and alerted the police but also agreed to give Romeo a chance. She later reassured Colleen over her fears Keith wasn’t interested in her and advised Roo over her involvement in John’s tourism scheme.She attended Charlie’s surprise birthday party where she picked up on the looks between Charlie and Brax and stopped Charlie announcing they were in a relationship by making a speech about how her father would be proud of her career. She met Douglas Graham, Penn’s grandfather, and encouraged Nicole and Marilyn to pretend Nicole was looking after George.She supported Nicole’s decision to take George back, telling Marilyn that Nicole wasn’t an unfit mother. She arranged to take some members of a law firm, who had offered her a job, out on the Blaxland and was annoyed when it stalled just out of harbour after Romeo and Roo had failed to repair the engine. She was called to represent Romeo when his next clients turned out to be drug smugglers and, although he wasn’t charged, she wanted to stop him using the Blaxland until Roo offered to keep an eye on him. She helped Colleen after she suffered an electric shock. She tried to dissuade Marilyn from interfering in Romeo and Indigo’s homecoming after she and Sid had broken up. When Marilyn got drunk and blamed Roo for the break-up, Morag went to see Roo and asked if there was any truth in it. However, she defended Roo to Alf when he returned. After giving Charlie a stern warning about Brax, she returned home.
From the beginning of 2012, she became an infrequent visitor to Summer Bay. She first returned for Charlie’s funeral, where she delivered a speech on behalf of the family. When Ruby insisted on going ahead with her and Charlie’s plan to move to the city, Morag convinced her to stay with her. However, when Ruby spent most of her time staying out all night and getting drunk, Morag told her she needed to return to Summer Bay to sort through her issues.
Sid contacted her for help when it turned out Sasha had accidentally killed Stu Henderson. She represented Sasha when she made a statement to the police but was annoyed when she withheld the fact she’d arranged a meeting with Stu the day he died and was charged with murder. In court, she tried to argue that Sasha’s actions were the result of shock and repeated abuse but an outburst from Sasha interrupted her attempts to discredit Christy Clarke’s claims Sasha was jealous of her fictional relationship with Stu and she banned Sasha from taking the stand. However, she managed to exposed Stu’s father Alan’s aggressive streak and, when Xavier got a statement that the police had initially believed Sasha innocent, she successfully argued that the charges against Sasha were the action of a publicity hungry prosecutor and had her acquitted.
She was called upon again when Ruby was arrested for drug possession after her new boyfriend, Steve Carmody, planted cannabis in her bag. She advised Romeo, who had given Steve his plane ticket, to keep away from the situation and managed to get Ruby released on bail. The next day, she heard Steve had turned himself in. After Romeo commented he thought Brax was involved, Morag visited Brax to make sure there would be no comeback and shared the news with Ruby. She later returned to town for Colleen’s farewell party. Roo asked her to represent Harvey on vote rigging charges and she told him that he’d have no chance of avoiding jail unless he pleaded guilty.
She was invited to Roo’s hen party by Marilyn, where she defended Harvey against Celia’s disapproval of him, and stayed around for the pair’s wedding. They were still in residence when Roo and Harvey returned from their honeymoon and began giving their conflicting opinions on how to treat Harvey’s chickenpox but when a row between Celia and Colleen resulted in Alf’s iPod being dropped into their poultice, he ordered all three sisters to leave.
For the next few years, Morag was an off screen ally, such as when she provided Alf with information on James Edmunds. She was summoned back to town in 2016 after Zac MacGuire was accused of the murder of Charlotte King and crossed swords with an old foe, the almost disgraced detective Dylan Carter, but was unable to stop Zac being charged or remanded, despite the lack of evidence. She suspected Dylan was after a result to get past his demotion but failed to get the bail decision overturned and had to inform Zac’s family that he was refusing visitors. She investigated Claire Lewis, Irene’s alleged daughter, for Olivia but found nothing wrong with her. She continued to be antagonistic towards Dylan and, when her people found evidence that Zac had used his phone near the caravan park at the time of the murder, she had the charges dropped, although her complaint against Dylan was ignored. She continued to investigate Dylan off screen and some time later was able to provide Kat with information on his illegal dealings.
In 2017, Morag was summoned back to town by Roo to defend John when he was accused of arson over the fires he had started under the influence of a brain tumour. She was the first to learn about Roo’s younger boyfriend James Mayvers when she moved into the Diner flat with them. She also gave Leah and VJ advice over retaining custody of Luc and, on learning VJ and Billie weren’t legally married, told them their only option was to prove that Billie wanted to marry him. She told John the prosecution were offering a deal but advised him against taking it. Despite her arguments in court, John was convicted and jailed. She began working on freeing him and suggested appealing the sentence rather than the verdict. When Roo fainted, Morag suggested she was going through the menopause. Roo told her she was pregnant and, despite being frustrated, she agreed to support her. She managed to get John freed, wishing Roo luck as she left town. She later advised Roo over the phone on the Mayvers’ attempts to make her sign a contract saying the child would have no contact with them. When Justin was after a lawyer for Brody a few months later, Alf said Morag was out of the country.