Attorney-General Christian Porter denies rape allegation

Attorney-General Christian Porter has denied a historical rape allegation made against him. Picture: Getty Images
Attorney-General Christian Porter has denied a historical rape allegation made against him. Picture: Getty Images

Attorney-General Christian Porter has outed himself as the cabinet minister at the centre of a sexual assault allegation that has rocked Federal Parliament.

Mr Porter denies assaulting a 16-year-old in 1988 during a visit to Sydney. The woman who made the complaint took her own life last year, effectively ending the possibility of a police investigation or conviction.

"I am not standing down or aside," Mr Porter said, but he will take a short period of leave to improve his own mental health.

Mr Porter said he had never had a detailed allegation put to him. He said he heard a rumour around last November, but he was not contacted by anyone with what was now being alleged.

"I have given the bulk of my adult working life to public service and the law," he said.

"If I stand down from my position as Attorney-General because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life's work based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print.

"If that happens, anyone in public life is able to be removed simply by the printing of an allegation."

He denied having sex with the woman at the time they met in early January 1988, and said he could not recall having any contact with her in the 33 years since.

The Attorney-General said he recalled going out dancing, but could not have forgotten the kind of events that were being alleged about him.

Mr Porter addressed the parents of the woman, saying he didn't want to add to their suffering.

"I hope you will also understand that is because what is being alleged did not happen, I must say so publicly," he said on Wednesday.

"The only thing I can say is that the truth [is] nothing in the allegations that have been printed are true."

The historical rape allegation was made public after an anonymous letter was sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Labor senator Penny Wong, and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young last week.

The letter included a detailed statement by the woman who made the complaint.

NSW Police said on Tuesday their investigation into the matter was closed, after making the decision there was not enough admissible evidence to justify a continued investigation.

The woman went to NSW Police last year but the investigation was suspended when she took her own life in June 2020 after telling authorities she didn't want to proceed.

"NSW Police have since sought legal advice in relation to these matters," police said in a statement.

"Based on information provided to NSW Police, there is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed."

Mr Morrison and senior coalition ministers have repeatedly insisted the allegation is a matter for police.

Mr Porter had sought advice from defamation expert Peter Bartlett ahead of his first public statements about the allegations which have rocked Parliament.

The deceased woman's former lawyer Michael Bradley from Marque Laywers says Mr Porter's position as Attorney-General and First Law Officer is untenable while the allegation remains unaddressed.

"He should stand down or be stood down, and the prime minister should institute an external independent inquiry to examine and look into fully, fully investigate the allegation," Mr Bradley said.

The matter is no longer one that the police can deal with and the continuing references to the police by government figures is just distraction, he said.

"It is now now purely a matter of whether this man is strictly proper to occupy his position, which is a position of public trust paid for on the public purse."

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Wednesday it was a difficult time to ensure the parliament was a safe workplace.

The federal government on Tuesday established a 24/7 confidential hotline for current and former political staffers to report serious incidents.

The new hotline was recommended in a review launched after political staffer Brittany Higgins broke her silence about her alleged rape in Parliament House.

The review is being conducted by the deputy secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Stephanie Foster.

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This story Christian Porter denies rape allegation first appeared on The Canberra Times.