New details have emerged on the circumstances surrounding the New South Wales and South Australian police’s handling of historical rape allegations made against former attorney-general Christian Porter.
Police have previously stated that they have been unable to investigate the allegations because the woman had not made a formal statement before she took her own life in Adelaide in June 2020.
Documents handed to NSW parliament and reported by Four Corners have now revealed that in March 2020, NSW authorities had applied to travel to SA to take the woman’s statement, but their travel application was rejected.
The documents detail how in November 2019, the alleged victim sought information from SAPOL regarding the reporting process for sexual assault. At the time, she told SAPOL she “may decide” to make a formal statement to the NSW authorities. SAPOL then forwarded the information to NSW Police.
The woman told SAPOL she wanted to make a formal statement with NSW Police in February 2020, while she was in Sydney meeting with her lawyer.
During a meeting with NSW Police on February 27, the woman was told she could either return to Sydney, or NSW authorities could travel to Adelaide, to complete the statement. The woman said she preferred the latter option, so she could have a support person present.
On March 10, a NSW Sex Crimes Squad detective filed a travel request to meet the woman. Despite being recommended for approval by three senior members of the Sex Crimes Squad, as well as the commander of the State Crime Command, the application was rejected by deputy commissioner David Hudson.
He denied the request on the basis that, in light of COVID-19 restrictions on interstate travel, there was “insufficient detail … to justify why this travel cannot be deferred”.
When NSW Police told the woman that they couldn’t travel to SA, she said she wanted to make her statement by telephone or video call “as soon as possible”, the documents show. The police subsequently told the woman that she could not make her statement via phone or video call, for reasons which were redacted in the documents handed to parliament.
On April 20, NSW Police asked SAPOL for assistance in taking the alleged victim’s statement. However, according to Guardian Australia, NSW Police hadn’t told the woman that SAPOL could take her statement.
When NSW Police contacted the woman days later, she indicated that she was “happy to wait” until travel restrictions eased to proceed with the statement.
NSW Police remained in contact with the woman over the following months. They emailed her on June 22 to arrange a welfare check and travel status update via phone call. The following day, she told police she “no longer felt able to proceed” with her statement. The woman died on June 24, and the police investigation was closed two months later.
The accusations against Porter first emerged in late February, when it was revealed that an anonymous letter outlining the allegations had been sent to a number of politicians, including the prime minister.
In early March it was revealed that former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Labor senator Penny Wong, and Labor MP Daniel Mulino had first learned of the alleged rape in 2019, before the woman’s death.
Porter is suing the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan for defamation over reports detailing the allegations.