Attorney-General of Australia Christian Porter, who’s at the forefront of a historical rape allegation, has launched defamation proceedings in the...Attorney-General of Australia Christian Porter, who’s at the forefront of a historical rape allegation, has launched defamation proceedings in the Federal Court against the ABC and Four Corners journalist Louise Milligan over an online story that claimed the Cabinet MP had raped a woman in the 1980s.
Porter has strenuously denied the claims against him and has since taken sick leave for his mental health.
“Today the Attorney-General the Hon Christian Porter MP commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and journalist, Louise Milligan, for defamation,” Porter’s lawyers said in a statement, obtained by Starts at 60, on Monday.
“The article that he sues on 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.”
The statement continued: “Over the last few weeks, the Attorney-General has 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. The trial by media should now end with the commencement of these proceedings. The claims made by the ABC and Ms Milligan will be determined in a court in a procedurally fair process. Mr Porter will have and will exercise the opportunity to give evidence denying these false allegations on oath.”
Porter’s lawyers, Bret Walker SC, Sue Chrysanthou SC and Rebekah Giles, said the allegations have “damaged the reputation of the Attorney-General” and that court proceedings will allow the ABC and Milligan to “present any relevant evidence … they believe justifies their conduct”.
Meanwhile, a Statement of Claim filed in the court on Monday, and seen by The Australian, accused the ABC and Milligan of selecting portions of the woman’s story that made the “allegations appear as credible as possible when there were other significant portions of the Dossier which demonstrated that the allegations were not credible”.
Milligan’s first online article about the allegation was published on ABC News on February 26, and headlined “Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister”.
“Milligan acted with malice knowing of the impossibility of any finding of guilt or civil liability in the circumstances and believing that a public campaign designed to damage his reputation would be a more effective substitute against Porter in replacement of the process of the justice system,” the Statement of Claim states, The Australian reports.
The article referenced a letter, which was written by a group of the alleged victim’s friends and sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison on what would have been her 50th birthday, that claimed the victim was raped by Porter in 1988 when she was just 16 years old.
New South Wales police have confirmed the alleged victim contacted the child abuse and sex crimes squad in February 2020 about the alleged assault. She took her own life a few months later, in June.
Although the ABC did not name Porter in the story, within hours on the article being published, tweets started appearing online that named Porter as the MP at the centre of the allegation. He was soon inundated with requests from the media to make a statement on the matter.
Porter fronted the press on March 3, and denied the allegation.
“I only knew [her for] briefest periods,” he said. “[We met] at debating competitions, when we were teenagers about 33 years ago, I was 17 years old, and I think that she was 16 years old … What is being alleged did not happen, I must say so publicly.” Show more