Attorney-General Christian Porter

Christian Porter’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou tries to override her own precedent in the Geoffrey Rush case to get interim suppression orders for Porter

The only thing that prevented Christian Porter’s barrister Sue Chrysanthou from being humiliated in court on Friday (7/5/1) is the fact that she has no shame. In filing a Notice of Motion to have suppression orders put on a large part of the ABC’s defence against Porter’s defamation claim Sue Chrysanthou had to ignore a precedent in the Geoffrey Rush case where she was also one of the applicant’s barristers and where the judge refused suppression orders in almost identical circumstances.

This was not lost on the ABC’s barrister Renee Enbom QC, who was on video link from Melbourne, and she proceeded to use the Rush precedent to argue against the interim suppression orders. But Justice Jayne Jagot said the directions hearing was only to set a date for a hearing of Porter’s Notice of Motion to strike our part of the ABC’s defence and then have suppression orders put on the part struck out. Justice Jagot put an interim suppression order on a large part of the ABC’s defence and a redacted version was published on the court’s website but based on the Rush precedent even if it is struck out there will be no suppression order put on it.

I live Tweeted the hearing with one Tweet saying:

“Christian Porter’s barrister wants the earliest possible hearing date because Porter has had to stand aside as Attorney-General which implies he will be reinstated as Attorney-General if he wins the defamation matter”

I wrote an article on the 5th of May titled “Alleged rapist Christian Porter’s defamation case against the ABC is in crisis as his lawyers try to hide evidence so the public do not know the truth” and at the end of the article I said:

“If the ABC hold the line and refuse to have any of their defence suppressed, then Porter’s last chance would be to ask Justice Jayne Jagot to put a suppression order on it which would scandalise the court as there is no justification to do so” (Click here to read more) And that is exactly what happened and why there was a court hearing on Friday which I watched via the live internet broadcast.

For a copy of the redacted version of the ABC’s defence Click here and for a copy of the redacted version of Porter’s reply Click here.

While Porter’s defamation claim is against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan, his evidence refers to and names many social media users, independent journalists and even this website (Click here to read more). So social media users and independent journalists have a stake in the outcome of this court case and even more so considering that one of the key defences that the ABC are using is common law qualified privilege as per the High Court of Australia 1997 precedent Lange v ABC.

The bottom line to the common law qualified privilege defence is that they are arguing it is political communication protected by the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution and if the ABC succeeds in that defence, it will have a huge on flow effect helping protect other journalists as well as social media users from frivolous defamation claims by politicians.

Scott Morrison gives the green light to attack social media users

Scott Morrison recently gave a speech which was reported as “Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested social media could be used by “the evil one” to undermine Australian society” (Click here to read more) which at least to some degree has given the green light for other politicians to attack social media users, if not sue them.

Add Porter’s case to Morrison’s comment and then add federal MP Peter Dutton suing Twitter user Shane Bazzi (Click here to read more) and it is becoming obvious suing journalists and social media users is starting to become commonplace for Liberal/National MP’s to try and hide their corrupt conduct. And NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has also said he will be suing “YouTuber and political satirist Jordan Shanks, better known as friendlyjordies”. (Click here to read more)

For reasons that are largely outlined above, I tried to intervene in the hearing on Friday, which the media can do, to argue against the suppression orders. I emailed the court Thursday night but only received a response after the hearing on Friday telling me I would need to file a Notice of Motion and affidavit to intervene. At the hearing on Friday, there was already one barrister, Dauid Sibtain, intervening on behalf of News Corp and Nine Entertainment but he was in the courtroom which might explain how he managed to intervene. But News Corp and Nine are both aligned to the Liberal Party which might impact on how hard they try to have the suppression orders lifted.

I am still considering filing the Notice of Motion to intervene as I think with the changing media landscape it is time independent journalists do intervene when appropriate to argue against suppression orders. I have had some good wins lifting suppression orders in my own matters including in the NSW Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, so I know that area of the law well as it is not overly complex. Christian Porter needs an “exceptional circumstance” to justify the suppression orders which he does not have nor did his barrister Sue Chrysanthou claim Porter had one when in court on Friday.

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17 replies »

  1. You are doing a great job on behalf of us all. Please file the Notice of Motion against suppression. As you say, leaving it up to Nine is very risky.

  2. Excellent work.

    A Ken Follett quote: “When a man is certain he knows god’s will, and is resolved to do it regardless of the cost, he is the most dangerous person in the World.”

    Not only does it seem to apply to Morrison, but indeed his whole cabal of ministers, MP’s and assorted hangers on.

  3. Here we are in the 21st Century and we still have people in power believing (and acting) in mumbo-jumbo. “the Evil One’ and ‘Laying on of hands’ should be relegated to footnotes in history, not guiding serving Ministers. Ronald Reagan was alllegedly quoted as saying he would have no qualms about pressing the nuclear launch button as ‘God would protect America’. Hopefully, we won`t be placed in a similar situation.

  4. The ABC should try to extend the hearing for as long as possible as The PENTECOSTAL is looking to go to an election in the back half of this year. If the hearing is still going the last issue The PENTECOSTAL would want is a sordid hearing sucking up all the oxygen. So, it would be likely that Porter will be removed off the scene by, someone challenging and winning pre-selection in his seat of Pearce; The PENTECOSTAL puts him on the backbench, and or he “retires gracefully”. In any event, if there is too much damaging or other damaging stories coming out then The PENTECOSTAL’S survival instincts will rise. Porter will be thrown under the bus and then a semitrailer to make sure he is wiped out.

    • Porter will need to be pre-selected for a different seat as Pearce is being assumed in the redistribution that will leave ‘Red Carpet Man’ notionally -1 seat, at the get go!

  5. Good work Sir. Your mettle is to be commended. Please continue. I am not aufait with the processes and mechanics of the legal system. All the best to you KCA.

  6. As others have said, thank you for endeavouring to expose the truth of this shameful and disgusting affair, and the corrupted government that has enabled such a situation to thrive.

  7. Thanks for your excellent and informative work!

    Has anyone considered the possibility of an MP using Parliamentary Privilege to read out the ABC’s evidence if this is stuck from the ABC’s defence?

    • If an MP tried to read the ABC materials in Parliament the Speaker of the House (or Pres of Senate) would likely refuse to allow it on the basis that it would be an interference in matters currently before the courts.

  8. All cockroaches like porter ,,, don’t like the light being shined on them and will hide using any means,,, just goes to show he has a lot more to hide then what is now in the public arena

  9. It’s shocking, but not surprising to see various LNP politicians attempting to sue social media users and other frivolous lawsuits against the likes of our already struggling public broadcaster the ABC. We are witnessing free speech being well and truly quelled through use of litigious intimidation. People afraid to criticise elected leaders and politicians alike, much like people are in other countries where criticising the government can land you in jail (or worse).

    When you’re a politician, especially a minister in the currently elected party of Australia, you have a certain power and privilege that average Australians or the public broadcaster does not. There should honestly be certain rules and legal barriers in place preventing politicians like Christian Porter from wasting the time of the court with nonsense like this.

    Please intervene, we can’t trust the likes of Nine Entertainment or Murdoch Mafia operation News Corp to act in anyone else’s best interests.

  10. Who would have thought that the seeking of justice was dependent upon the seeker’s ability to pay?

    Nevertheless, that was the argument used by Porter’s defence when Nicholas Olsen said, in response to Justice Thawley’s suggestion that Mr Porter might have separate legal teams for the defamation action and the present action to oust Ms Chrysanthou:

    “In an ideal world perhaps, but he’s a private individual and money is a significant consideration”.

    You had better put that one in your little black book, sure to impress the court on your next appearance.

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