It seems that private field access has been "fixed" in recent versions of Groovy; Groovy no longer allows access to private fields. But this fix cripples peoples code, including mine.
You can't disagree with Michael Kebe, if one wants to access a private field or method, and the language doesn't allow it, then reflection is the way to go and it's going to be ugly.
So, as malbery has already suggested, why not have a private field access operator that allows access to private fields, much like the direct field access operator, only more powerful.
If we let the percent symbol "%" to be that special operator, then it could be used like this:
This could be a contribution from the community, as long as the development team agrees with the approach.