Christian Porter, Australian Attorney General, currently on mental health leave has filed defamation proceedings against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan in the federal court to counter “false allegations of historical rape against him.”
Christian Porter’s team will be led by Brett Walker SC, the same lawyer who led George Pell’s case and secured his innocence from the High Court of Australia. Lawyers for Porter confirmed the legal action has been commenced.
On March 5, Christian Porter outed himself and vehemently denied the allegations tell the world, “it did not happen”.
A member of Mr Porter’s legal team, Rebekah Giles, revealed in a statement that an article by the Louise Milligan on the ABC website on 26 February, was defamatory. The article titled ‘Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister’ is the subject of Mr Porter’s legal action.
Rebekah Giles also represented Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins when she threatened a defamation proceeding against the defence minister Linda Reynolds.
Along with Sue Chrysanthou SC (also part of Mr Porter’s legal team), Ms Giles assisted Ms Higgins to reach a legal settlement with Defence Minister Linda Reynolds after reports emerged the latter called her a “lying cow”.
Through his lawyers Mr Porter claims the article “made false allegations against him in relation to a person who he met when he was a teenager”.
“Although he was not named, the article made allegations against a senior cabinet minister and the attorney general was easily identifiable to many Australians as the subject of the allegations,” Ms Giles said.
Giles says Porter had been subjected “to trial by media without regard to the presumption of innocence or the rules of evidence and without any proper disclosure of the material said to support the untrue allegations”.
Giles said the “trial by media should now end with the commencement of these proceedings”.
She said “claims made by the ABC and Ms Milligan [would] be determined in a court in a procedurally fair process” and Porter would have “and will exercise the opportunity to give evidence denying these false allegations on oath”.
One could say this is a no brainer, two pronged response (read attack) to silence the critics of Mr Porter. And it seems beyond criticism and cynicism of any kind.
It silences them all – those who were pushing for some sort of independent inquiry into the allegations against Mr Porter – premising it on providing him with the opportunity to tell his side of the story; and the aggressive media protagonists who wanted the inquiry to subject Mr Porter to answer questions that they had for him to answer.
ABC has been invited to defend the action. If and when the case proceeds, Mr Porter will be giving sworn evidence and Australia and the world will have his side of the story.
And if he has been hiding the truth, the ABC lawyers will be able to do what an inquiry would have done to satisfy Australians – put every possible question to disprove the attorney general.
In that sense at least, perhaps it is a welcome move.