South Australia Coroner’s Court has granted access to suppressed parts of ABC’s written defense to a defamation suit brought against it by Federal Liberal Minister Christian Porter as the court investigates the death of a woman who accused him of raping her in 1980 ‘ erne.
The federal court handed down a ruling on Wednesday that varied a repression order on 27 pages of ABC’s 37-page defense to allow the court to release the material to the SA Coroner’s Court.
The ruling said the information could be passed on “to the South Australian state court and senior adviser assisting the state court, Stephen Plummer, and such other persons as each of them can authorize for the purpose of investigating the death of a person who is referred to in the unedited defense ”.
A temporary repression order over the 27 pages was placed by Justice Minister Jayne Jagot in May pending an expected application for prior trial by Mr Porter to wipe them out and remove them from the case on the grounds that they contained “scandalous” and “annoying” “material or material that was otherwise” abuse of the process “.
Sir. Porter agreed in May to withdraw his alleged defamation case against ABC, although the procedure has not yet been officially concluded.
As part of a settlement agreement, ABC and Mr Porter agreed to request a court order that the 27 pages be “permanently removed from the court case file”. The pages are edited in the publicly available version of the defense.
Nine, the publisher of this masthead, and News Corp. have argued that the unedited defense should not be removed from the trial as part of a broader attempt to access the suppressed material. Justice Jagot will make its decision on whether the material should remain in the trial on Friday.
Sir. Porter had claimed that an article on ABC’s website embarrassed him in a number of ways, including by suggesting that he “raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988” when he was 17, and this contributed to her taking her own life last year after she told NSW Police she did not want to continue her complaint. He strictly denies the allegations.