‘Scandalous’ details Porter wants secret
Former Attorney-General Christian Porter has launched legal action to ensure "scandalous" elements of the ABC's defence in a defamation case over a historical rape allegation is kept secret on the grounds it is an abuse of the court.
The Federal Court has confirmed that Mr Porter, who strenuously denies he raped a teenage girl at a school debating contest in the 1980s has applied today for parts of the ABC's defence to be treated as confidential and for some arguments to be struck out.
His accuser died by suicide last year shortly after telling police she did not want to proceed with the complaint. But friends of the dead woman wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this year demanding an independent inquiry. It is the ABC's report of that letter that is the subject of the defamation action.
Mr Porter's legal application to ask the Federal Court to strike out some elements of the ABC's legal defence and to ensure other elements remain secret will now be considered by Justice Jagot.
According to the document filed by Mr Porter's lawyer Rebekah Giles, his legal team is seeking to strike out "Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Defence dated 4 May 2021.
The material is "to be treated as confidential and is not to be distributed to any third party outside of the proceedings."
"Until further order of the Court, no access is to be granted to any third party,'' the application states.
"Pursuant to Rule 16.21(1) FCR paragraphs 14 and Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Defence be struck out, or such portions thereof as found by the Court to fall within
"Pursuant to Rule 16.21(2) FCR Schedules 1, 2 and 3 of the Defence (or parts thereof) be removed from the Court file as they contain material of a kind mentioned in Rule 16.21(1)(a), (b) and/or (c) or are otherwise an abuse of the process of the Court.
Federal court rules state that a party may apply to the Court for an order that all or part of a pleading be struck out on the ground that the pleading:
(a) contains scandalous material; or
(b) contains frivolous or vexatious material; or
(c) is evasive or ambiguous; or
(d) is likely to cause prejudice, embarrassment or delay in the proceeding; or
(e) fails to disclose a reasonable cause of action or defence or other case appropriate to the nature of the pleading; or
(f) is otherwise an abuse of the process of the Court.
Mr Porter is also seeking an order that the ABC to pay his legal costs for the interlocutory orders.
The ABC lodged its defence earlier this week but it has not been publicly released.
Earlier this week the Federal Court confirmed that discussions were underway between the parties concerning the publication of the defence.
Justice Jagot had proposed to allow the parties a reasonable opportunity to complete these discussions before the uploading of the documents to the online file.
As a result of the negotiations, it's still not clear if the national broadcaster will be arguing the defence of "truth" in the defamation case over reports an unnamed cabinet minister was accused of a historical rape at a school debating conference in 1988.
News.com.au has contacted the ABC and Mr Porter's lawyers for comment over the negotiations earlier this week and to date has received no reply.
*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as 'Scandalous' details Porter wants secret