The Federal Court has ordered the ABC’s defence in the Christian Porter defamation case be removed from the court file, after two media organisations attempted to access the documents.
Porter commenced defamation proceedings in March, after the ABC published an article about an unnamed cabinet minister accused of an historical alleged sexual assault. He came forward as the minister in question on March 3, days after the article was published. He rejected the allegation that he had raped a woman in 1988, when she was 16.
The former attorney general dropped the case in May, and both parties agreed to have the ABC’s defence removed from the court file. But lawyers for Nine and News Corp have been fighting to access the 27 redacted documents.
Justice Jayne Jagot handed down her decision on Friday. She ruled that the unredacted defence be removed from the court file, ‘on the ground that it is necessary to prevent prejudice to the proper administration of justice’.
Earlier this week the Federal Court granted the South Australian Coroner’s Court and the SA state coroner access to parts of the ABC’s defence. The coroner is investigating the death of the woman who accused Porter of rape.
Last month, on the anniversary of the woman’s death, the court published the 31-page dossier containing the woman’s detailed and graphic account of the alleged sexual assault.
The dossier was sent to the prime minister, Labor senator Penny Wong, and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young in February.