Former attorney-general Christian Porter loses appeal

By Anna Macdonald

July 15, 2022

ChristianPorter
Christian Porter. (AP Photo/Richard Wainwright)

Former attorney-general Christian Porter has lost an appeal in the Federal Court against the dismissal of lawyer Sue Chrysanthou from his defamation case. 

Three judges dismissed Porter’s ground of appeal.  

Chrysanthou had been sought out for legal advice by Jo Dyer, a friend of the person who made an allegation against Porter. The concern was that Chrysanthou had knowledge from that consultation that would be used in Porter’s case. 

“Ms Chrysanthou was a barrister acting for Ms Dyer and received the confidential information in the course of acting for Ms Dyer. 

“Consequently, she owed a duty to Ms Dyer to protect that information and it was not open for Ms Chrysanthou to decide, against the wishes of Ms Dyer, that she would risk using the confidential information for the benefit of any other person,” the judgment reads. 

Chrysanthou’s cross-appeal was also rejected by the Federal Court. 

Dyer issued a statement on the judgment, calling it a ‘simple case about the duty of confidentiality’.

“Christian Porter was not a party to it until he actively joined himself to it. It remains unclear why he did this, and on what ‘principle’ he then chose to appeal Thawley J’s original decision. Perhaps one can be more cavalier about litigation if one sources ‘anonymous’ donations to fund it,” the statement read. 

The outcome follows the recent changes to the ministerial code of conduct that prevents ministers from using blind trusts, which Porter used in the defamation case against the ABC.

Marque Lawyers, who were the solicitors for Dyer, tweeted: “Jo is delighted and relieved; we are delighted and unsurprised. We’re all glad it’s over”.

Dyer ran in the South Australian seat of Boothby as an independent this federal election and was unsuccessful, receiving 6.54% of the vote. The seat went to Labor’s Louise Miller-Frost. 

In the prior ruling, the judge had ordered Porter and Chrysanthou together to pay Dyer $430,200 in legal fees.

The defamation case involves ABC reporting on historic sexual assault allegations, which Porter has denied. In May last year, Porter dropped his defamation case against the ABC.


READ MORE:

Judge halts Christian Porter ABC defamation case over alleged conflict of interest

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