— Internet News

ABC accuses Christian Porter of trying to control defamation case

Former attorney-general Christian Porter is trying to control how a defamation proceeding is reported and what information is made public, ABC’s legal team has argued in the Federal Court. Mr. Porter seeks to strike out parts of ABC’s defense in defamation proceedings concerning historical rape allegations, which he denies. The public broadcaster’s defense contains material that is “evasive or ambiguous” and scandalous, according to an application filed on behalf of Mr. Porter.

On Friday, Renee Enbom QC, representing the public broadcaster and journalist Louise Milligan, said publishing all 13 pages of Mr. Porter’s submission was unfair if significant parts of their defense were suppressed.

“The principles of open justice that are fundamental to this court … require these proceedings to be reported fairly and accurately, not in a one-sided way or that suits one party,” Ms. Enbom said.

The now-industry, science, and technology minister launched defamation action in March against ABC. Ms. Milligan for publishing what he says are “false accusations” that he was the subject of a historical rape allegation.

The woman at the center of the allegations died in June 2020.

Ms. Enbom said her party received a midnight call on Tuesday after filing their defense that evening, asking for it not to be made available by the court.

The defense report contains material that is “evasive or ambiguous” and scandalous, according to the application by Mr. Porter’s legal team.

Sue Chrysanthou, SC, representing Mr. Porter, said they sought to suppress several schedules that comprised part of the defense.

It was wrong to suggest people were being deprived of knowing what was going on or that they were hindering the availability of documents, Ms. Chrysanthou said.

But Ms. Enbom said the schedules effectively contain the substance of the defense case.

“If the schedules are to be suppressed, the reply should be suppressed. Otherwise, the principles of open justice are eroded even further, and the reporting will be of only one party’s case,” Ms. Enbom said.

She said an enormous amount of work went into ABC and Ms. Milligan’s reporting in response to an allegation of malice made by Mr. Porter’s legal team.

Justice Jayne Jagot said it would be obvious to the public that part of the defense had not been published and would know this extra information existed.

The court needs to protect its processes and prevent prejudice or the improper administration of justice, Justice Jagot said. Ms. Chrysanthou submitted the defense had made some “unusual denials,” which she expected they would want to explain, and asked for the earliest possible trial date the court could find.

My client had to step aside as attorney-general,” Ms. Chrysanthou said.

We want to get this case moving. The court was told that the trial could last up to six weeks, with the defense calling up to 15 witnesses. Ms. Chrysanthou requested a hearing date reserved in September or October to ensure the trial is finalized this year.

Molly Aronson

I'm an award-winning blogger who enjoys all things creative but is especially passionate about lifestyle design. I blog over at mehlogy.com I love that I get to share my passion for healthy living, fashion, fitness, and travel with readers from all over the world.

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