Attorney-General Christian Porter has commenced defamation proceedings in the Federal Court against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan.
He is suing over an article the ABC published on Friday, February 26, which he says made false allegations against him in relation to a person he met when he was a teenager.
A statement from his lawyer Rebekah Giles says although Porter was not named, the article made allegations against a senior cabinet minister “and the Attorney-General was easily identifiable to many Australians”.
The statement, issued on Monday says, in the last few weeks Porter “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 procedeings,” it says.
“The claims made by the ABC and Ms Milligan will be determined in Court in a procedurally fair process.”
The statement says Porter will give evidence “denying these false allegations on oath.”
The ABC and Milligan have damaged Porter’s reputation by publishing the allegations, the statement says.
“This Court process will allow them to present any relevant evidence and make submissions they believe justifies their conduct in damaging Mr Porter’s reputation.”
The statement points out that under the Defamation Act, it is open to the ABC and Milligan to plead truth in their defence - “and prove the allegations to the lower civil standard”.
Porter’s lawyers include two leading barristers, Sue Chrysanthou SC, and Bret Walker SC, who appeared for Geoffrey Rush when he successfully sued the Daily Telegraph for defamation. Walker also acted for Cardinal George Pell, whose child sex abuse convictions were overturned in an appeal before the High Court.
The ABC said it would defend the action.
Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
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