ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan has denied allegations of deleting social media posts relevant to Christian Porter’s defamation case against the ABC, over an online article she filed that revealed a senior cabinet minister was facing historic rape allegations.
In a recent letter filed in the Federal Court of Australia, Porter’s legal team said part of the former Attorney General’s case would be “inferential” and based on material that it is collecting.
In support of the claim that Porter was identified by the article, his legal team said Google searches for ‘Christian Porter’ had increased significantly after the ABC published an online article setting out a rape allegation against an unnamed cabinet minister.
Porter later came forward as the accused and denied the allegations.
The team also laid out a schedule of tweets and social media posts they say support their case that Porter was identified as the subject of the article.
They also alleged that Louise Milligan and “perhaps” the public broadcaster deleted social media posts related to the Porter case, which both Milligan and the ABC have strongly denied.
It comes as the former Commonwealth Attorney General continues his defamation lawsuit against the ABC, after taking on the science and technology portfolio in the Morrison government.
“It has come to our attention that Ms Milligan and perhaps the ABC have been deleting social media posts relevant to these proceedings which could go to issues of identification, aggravation, and malice, if it becomes relevant,” Porter’s legal team wrote.
“In our view this is a serious matter that requires your urgent attention. Over the last two weeks we have captured the social media pages of your clients. Any deletions will be immediately apparent.
“We request you let us know your position in relation to this matter.”
Both Milligan and the ABC have denied any posts relevant to the Porter case were deleted.
In a tweet posted prior to Easter, Milligan said: “I stand by my journalism & I strongly deny any completely spurious claims that social media posts have ‘perhaps’ been deleted.”
In another tweet, the veteran reporter criticised News Corp outlet The Australian for its coverage of the allegations by Porter’s legal team.
Me “perhaps” (perhaps, perhaps, perhaps) deleting tweets is brought to you by the same peeps that had me tailing the Commonwealth Attorney-General with private investigators. On the front page! Exclusive! With zero proof. Because, again, it didn’t happen. Happy Friday.
— Louise Milligan (@Milliganreports) April 1, 2021
The ABC said in a statement: “The ABC and Ms Milligan understand their obligations to retain material relevant to the proceedings and are fulfilling these obligations.
“The suggestion that the ABC or Ms Milligan have deleted social media posts relevant to the defamation proceedings is strongly denied.”
The ABC’s defence is due to be filed by 4 May, with a preliminary hearing of the case listed for 14 May.
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