Christian Porter defamation case against ABC mystery 💥👩💥

It’s the mystery that has intrigued political leaders, legal eagles and journalists for months. How is former attorney-general Christian Porter funding his blockbuster defamation case against the ABC in a trial that could cost millions of dollars?

Now, Mr Porter has fuelled those questions, declining to say if a mystery millionaire is bankrolling his expensive legal team featuring lawyers who don’t always get out of bed for less than $20,000-a-day.

RELATED: China publishes anti-Australia poster

The ABC is expected to file its legal defence today to allegations it defamed the former ­attorney-general in an online ­article revealing a senior pol­itician had been accused of ­historic sexual assault.

Mr Porter strenuously denies the allegation that he raped an Adelaide teenager at a debating conference in the 1980s. The woman died by suicide last year shortly after telling police she did not want to proceed with the complaint

His lawyers have argued in a statement of claim that he was identifiable as the Cabinet minister accused of raping an Adelaide woman at a school debating competition in Sydney in 1988.

Questions have swirled for months over who is funding Mr Porter’s legal team. In what has been dubbed “the trial of the century”, some of the nation’s top defamation lawyers are squaring off in the Federal Court.

The Prime Minister has ruled out taxpayers footing the bill. Mr Porter has insisted it is being paid for “privately” but even for a man on an annual salary of $370,000 a year, the legal bills alone will quickly swallow up his annual salary.

RELATED: Huge catch in PM’s new childcare plan

Asked by whether a mystery millionaire donor is helping out with the legal costs, Mr Porter provided a cryptic answer that did not rule out a benefactor.

“The defamation action is a private legal matter and it is not funded by taxpayers,’’ a spokesman for Mr Porter said.

“The Industry Minister meets all his obligations with respect to his register of interests and other declaration requirements.”

To date, Mr Porter’s register of interests has not been updated for months.

Labor’s Attorney-General spokesman Mark Dreyfus said if Mr Porter was getting help to pay his legal bills he must declare it.

If there’s no mystery benefactor, Mr Dreyfus said it was a simple matter to clear up.

“It’s absurd for Mr Porter to be suggesting that a Cabinet minister doesn’t have to disclose who is paying his legal fees,’’ Mr Dreyfus told

“Others have been upfront with the Parliament and the Australian people about who helped them with their legal fees

“What has Mr Porter got to hide?

“The rules are clear and as a member of Cabinet, a former attorney-general and a former leader of the House, Mr Porter fully understands this.”

Under parliamentary rules any benefit – or agreement to provide a benefit – must be declared on the pecuniary interest register within 28 days.

The only basis for a politician to decline to disclose a gift of legal assistance would be if they claimed to have formed the view that there is no appearance of a conflict of interest.

Under a resolution of the House of Representatives, members need not disclose a gift valued at more than $300 where received from other than official sources in a purely personal capacity unless the Member judges that an appearance of conflict of interest may be seen to exist.

There are precedents of MPs declaring gifts such as receiving legal assistance free of charge.

For example, former Labor leader Bill Shorten always declared pro bono legal fees for the Royal Commission into trade unions and other matters.

Separately, there is also the issue of the obligation to disclose gifts/potential conflicts as a Cabinet minister.

The rules state that ministers and officials attending Cabinet or Cabinet committee meetings must declare any private interests of which they are aware.

This can include pecuniary interests, held by them or by members of their immediate family, which may give rise to a conflict with their public duties. Any such declarations will be recorded by the Cabinet note takers.

Mr Porter’s expensive legal team includes Bret Walker SC, who successfully argued for the High Court to overturn the conviction of George Pell, reputational risk lawyer Rebekah Giles and Sydney barrister Sue Chrysanthou SC.

Mr Walker also acted for Geoffrey Rush during The Daily Telegraph’s legal appeal over the decision to award him $2.9m damages.

Ms Giles and Ms Chrysanthou had also represented Sarah Hanson-Young in her defamation victory against former Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm after he told the Greens Senator to “stop shagging men”.

The ABC has engaged former commonwealth solicitor-general Justin Gleeson SC to lead its defence in a team including Victorian defamation barrister Renee Enbom SC, and Sydney barrister Clarissa Amato.

The matter will be heard by Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot.

Christian Porter defamation case against ABC mystery

Get link