Christian Porter to sue ABC for defamation

By Naomi Neilson|15 March 2021
Christian Porter to sue ABC for defamation

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and a journalist for defamation following allegations of a historic sexual assault.

Christian Porter has launched defamation proceedings over an online article that he alleges had portrayed him as the perpetrator of a historic rape more than 30 years ago. He claims that the “false allegations” made against him and printed before his press conference have damaged his reputation as he deals with a “trial by media”.

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He has retained Sydney barristers Bret Walker SC and Sue Chrysanthou SC as well as solicitor Rebekah Giles to seek damages, including aggravated damages, for the article headlined “Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegations against cabinet minister”. Reporter Louise Milligan was named a party in the lawsuit.

A statement from Ms Giles read that although Mr Porter was not named in the article itself, it made allegations against a “senior cabinet minister” and Mr Porter was “easily identifiable to many Australians as the subject of the allegations”.

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“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,” Ms Giles wrote in the statement.

“The ABC and Ms Milligan having published these allegations have damaged the reputation of the Attorney-General. This court process will allow them to present any relevant evidence and make submissions they believe justifies their conduct.”

She added that there is hope the “trial by media” that has followed Mr Porter since the article was published will end with the launch of the proceedings.

The statement of claim alleges the ABC article made a series of defamatory claims against Mr Porter, including that he “brutally raped” a girl when they were both teenagers and that it contributed to her taking her own life. It also indicated that Mr Porter was “reasonably suspected by police” of the assault.

Mr Porter, who is on sick leave following a tense press conference in which he strenuously denied the assault, will not comment further.

More to come.

Christian Porter to sue ABC for defamation
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