Suppressed information used in the Christian Porter defamation case will be accessed during an investigation into the death of the woman who accused Porter of historical rape.
The Federal Court has this week granted the South Australian Coroner’s Court access to parts of the defence used by the ABC in the defamation case, which Porter dropped in May.
The order also allows the SA state coroner, among others, to access the documents ‘for the purpose of the investigation into the death of a person referred to in the unredacted defence’.
The coroner is investigating the death of the woman who alleged Porter raped her in Sydney in 1988, which Porter has denied. While the coroner is yet to determine whether to hold an inquest into the death, in March he requested further investigations into the cause and circumstances of the death, after he received a file from SA police.
“Whilst SAPOL has provided information to me, I determined that the investigation is incomplete,” he said.
The woman took her own life last year — a day after telling NSW Police she ‘no longer felt able to proceed’ with her formal statement on the allegations.
The former attorney general initiated the defamation case against the ABC and one of its journalists in March, over an article about a cabinet minister accused of an historical alleged sexual assault. Porter was not named, but his lawyers claimed that he was ‘easily identifiable to many Australians’ as the minister in the article.
While Porter has sought to have parts of the ABC’s defence case permanently removed from the court file, lawyers for Nine and News Corp have been fighting to access the defence. The fight will come to a head on Friday, when Justice Jayne Jagot determines whether the suppressed documents should remain on the court file.