ABC and former attorney general agree to end defamation case

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Pearce MHR Christian Porter says he will put himself forward at the next election to continue to represent residents in Canberra.

PEARCE MHR Christian Porter has decided to discontinue his defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan, according to the national broadcaster.

In a statement this afternoon the ABC said all parties had agreed to not pursue the matter any further and that no damages would be paid.

In a later statement the ABC said the only costs it would be paying were the mediation costs.

“The ABC stands by the importance of the article, which reported on matters of significant public interest and the article remains online,’’ the statement said.

Yanchep News Online understands the original story will be updated with the following editor’s note:

“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 (then) 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.

The ABC stands by our investigative and public interest journalism, which is always pursued in the interests of the Australian community.

The ABC stands by Louise Milligan, one of Australia’s foremost and most awarded investigative journalists, and all our journalists in their independent and brave reporting on matters about which Australians have a right to be informed.’’

The Guardian reported that both sides had agreed to settle to avoid what would have been an expensive trial after mediation.

In Christian Porter and ABC agree to settle before defamation court case it reported that Mr Porter addressed the media after the settlement was announced and said he indicated he saw ABC statement as a victory for him.

Last Thursday Justice Thomas Thawley said in a separate ruling that Mr Porter’s barrister would have to withdraw from the case because she had received confidential information, which was relevant to the case and could present “a danger of misuse”.

On March 3 Mr Porter identified himself as the Cabinet minister facing a historical rape allegation at the centre of the ABC story but he said the allegations simply did not happen.

While strenuously denying the allegations Mr Porter also said he had no intention of standing down or standing aside as Attorney General.

On March 15 Mr Porter launched defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan.

Yanchep News Online has contacted Mr Porter, who is now the Industry, Science and Technology Minister, for comment.