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Friend of Christian Porter’s accuser issues letter warning of possible defamation lawsuit

A friend of the woman who made allegations of historical rape against Cabinet minister Christian Porter has issued a legal notice saying she is considering launching a defamation action against him.

In a statement on Tuesday, Jo Dyer said a second defamation concerns notice was issued to the former Attorney-General and his legal team that afternoon “in relation to his continuing defamatory comments of me”.

“Mr Porter has now twice impugned my honesty and integrity,” she said. 

Ms Dyer last week won a court order preventing Mr Porter’s barrister, Sue Chrysanthou, from representing him in his now-discontinued defamation case against the ABC.

Federal Court Justice Tom Thawley ruled that Ms Chrysanthou could not act for Mr Porter in the case because of the potential risk of the misuse of confidential information provided by Ms Dyer to Ms Chrysanthou in a separate matter from November 2020 until the early months of this year.

“He [Mr Porter] should be on notice that if I launch legal proceedings, I tend to see them through to their conclusions,” Ms Dyer said in a statement.

Ms Dyer appeared before the Federal Court last week, giving evidence that she had believed her friend when she disclosed – after they had reconnected for the first time in two decades in August 2019 – allegations of historical rape involving Mr Porter, claims which he strenuously denies.

Ms Dyer said the second legal notice relates to remarks Mr Porter made on Monday after he discontinued his defamation case against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan. 

“Yesterday, Mr Porter alleged that, after “coaching” from Ms Milligan, I had destroyed important communications that may have had a bearing on his now discontinued action against Ms Milligan and the ABC,” she said. 

“This is absurd. As I stated in court under oath, a number of people, of whom Ms Milligan was but one, encouraged me to treat all communications…with the care and respect she and they warranted.”

The first legal notice related to a statement issued by Mr Porter on 12 May, which Ms Dyer said “implied legal proceedings I commenced against Sue Chrysanthou were part of an improper last-minute legal strategy to disrupt” his case against Ms Milligan and the ABC.

“He did this despite knowing the real reason for the court action, and the lengths to which I had gone over the preceding two months to avoid court,” she said.

Mr Porter launched defamation action against the ABC in March, following a story by the public broadcaster concerning a letter sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

That letter alleged a senior member of the government had raped a 16-year-old woman in 1988.

Although Mr Porter was not named in the ABC article, his legal team argued that readers could still identify him.

Mr Porter subsequently revealed the article was about him during a press conference in which he strongly denied the allegations. 

The ABC and Mr Porter announced on Monday afternoon that the defamation action had been discontinued. The ABC did not pay any damages to Mr Porter but did pay mediation costs.  

In her statement on Tuesday, Ms Dyer joined renewed calls for a public inquiry into the allegations against Mr Porter, saying they remain “completely untested”.

“Until they have been investigated, it is untenable for Ms Porter to remain in Cabinet,” she said. 

Mr Porter on Monday also addressed renewed calls for an independent inquiry. 

“People will call for an inquiry or they won’t call for an inquiry,” he told reporters. 

“The things that were alleged to have happened just didn’t happen.”

Mr Porter’s legal team has been contacted for comment.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

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