AlwaysAccording to an exclusive report by the Guardian Australia, Christian Porter had an offer to settle his defamation case rejected by the ABC weeks before the two parties entered mediation.
After the two parties did reach a settlement, the ABC added an Editor’s Note to the top of the original article that the defamation case rested on, which centered on the alleged rape of a girl by a Cabinet Minister when they were both teenagers.
The Editor’s Note includes information such as: “On 26 February 2021, the ABC published an article by Louise Milligan. That article was about a letter to the Prime Minister containing allegations against a senior cabinet minister. Although he was not named, the article was about the Attorney-General Christian Porter.”
“The ABC did not intend to suggest that Mr Porter had committed the criminal offences alleged. The ABC did not contend that the serious accusations could be substantiated to the applicable legal standard – criminal or civil. However, both parties accept that some readers misinterpreted the article as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter. That reading, which was not intended by the ABC, is regretted.”
Porter has strenuously denied the allegations.
After the ABC’s statement was published, Porter framed the settlement very differently in a combative press conference on Monday afternoon.
He claimed that the settlement was a “humiliating back down” for the public broadcaster, and also said, “I never thought they would say they regret the outcome of the article.”
“I never thought that they would concede that the accusations that were put in the article could never be proven, could not be proven to the criminal standard or the civil standard.”
However, the ABC retaliated by emphasising that they neither said that they regretted the article.
They published a counter-response, which said, “The ABC has not said that it regrets the article. As we have stated, the ABC stands by the importance of the article, which reported on matters of significant public interest.”
“The article was not “sensationalist”. It was an accurate and factual report on a letter that had been sent to the Prime Minister and two other senior politicians.”
“Communications concerning the mediation started before the commencement of the Dyer v Chrysanthou proceedings. It is simply incorrect to suggest that evidence in that case led the ABC to seek mediation.”
The Dyer v Chysanthou case refers to actions taken by Jo Dyer, a friend of the deceased woman at the centre of the rape allegation, against Porter’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou.
Porter also said that the ABC had approached his lawyers the previous Friday for mediation, which journalist Louise Milligan rejected on Twitter. She claimed that it was Porter who requested settlement first.
Jo Dyer is now taking legal action against Porter himself over comments he made in the press conference, which she has described as defamatory.
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