'I did not sleep with the victim': Porter's tearful denial

Attorney-General Christian Porter has been identified as the cabinet minister facing historic rape allegations.

A visibly emotional Porter strongly denied the accusations, saying they "simply did not happen".

Speaking at a press conference in Perth, Porter refused to resign from his post as Attorney-General. "I am not standing down or aside," Porter said.

He said he would take a "short period of leave" to address his mental health. Mr Porter today broke his silence after the NSW Police revealed there was "insufficient admissible evidence" to proceed with an investigation into the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in 1988.

Mr Porter said he only knew the complainant for a brief period in his teens, describing her as a "bright, happy person".

With voice shaking and holding back tears, he began by addressing the parents of the alleged victim, saying they deserved better than the allegation being politicised.

"The things that have been claimed to happen did not happen. I do not mean to impose anything more upon your grief," he said.

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

The allegations came to light after an anonymous letter, which included an attachment containing the claims reportedly from the woman involved, was sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The woman made a report to the police in 2019, however, did not complete her formal statement before taking her own life in Adelaide in June 2020.

Mr Porter said he was aware of a "whispering campaign" before the story broke on Friday but no one had ever put specific allegations to him.

It came as the family of a woman who alleged she was raped in 1988 say they continue to suffer "considerable grief" after her sudden death.

There are growing calls for an inquiry after the Adelaide woman, who was 16 when she was allegedly raped in Sydney, took her own life last year.

Through a statement issued by their lawyer, the woman's family said the matter was sensitive and they did not wish to speak publicly.

"They continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss," it reads

However, her friends, including lawyers and business leaders, have joined calls for a coronial inquiry into her death.

The development follows NSW Police revealing there was "insufficient admissible evidence" to proceed with an investigation into the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in 1988 - before the man entered politics.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has fired a warning shot at the government, saying issues surrounding a historical rape allegation will not go away.

The cabinet minister at the centre of the allegations is expected to out himself in a public statement today.

This is because the woman did not complete her formal police statement before taking her own life in Adelaide last year.

Mr Albanese said the woman told multiple people that she wanted an investigation, which could be through a coronial inquiry in South Australia or an independent investigation similar to the High Court's probe into allegations against judge Dyson Heydon.

"It is very clear that, in my mind, that this will require further leadership and action from the Prime Minister and I await the statement by the minister involved," the Labor leader said.

"The presumption of innocence is a critical part of our legal system, but now that the existing legal processes have been unable to proceed … people will be looking for further responses beyond any statement that might be made today by the minister."

Mr Albanese said he was "disappointed" that Mr Morrison - who told the media this week that the minister denied the claims - had not read the document anonymously sent to the Prime Minister's office.

"That stands in stark contrast to what Scott Morrison said in May of 2019 about the need to believe people who come forward," Mr Albanese said.

"The Prime Minister needs to assure not just himself but assure the Australian people that the cabinet minister is fit to serve in his current role.

"The Prime Minister (is) pretending that this will go away. It will not."

Speaking on Today, Nationals backbencher Matt Canavan was asked if the cabinet minister at the centre of the allegations should continue in his role.

 "I don't see any reason why not," Senator Canavan said.

"To this date what we have seen are allegations, serious allegations.

"But if the mere allegation or making of an allegation would cause someone to be removed from office, that obviously sets a very dangerous precedent."

Senator Canavan said claims of this nature should be investigated, but the presumption of innocence should be cherished.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week rejected calls for an independent inquiry, saying the claims were a matter for the police and the minister had denied the allegations.

But the dead woman's lawyer, Michael Bradley, told Sunrise that although the criminal process was done, a cloud still hung over the integrity of the cabinet minister accused of the "grave crime".

"It is now a matter for the minister in question and the Prime Minister," Mr Bradley said.

"My view is it would be appropriate for the minister to step down and an inquiry to be held, and then we wait and see what that results in."

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has also backed calls for an independent investigation, led by former High Court judges.

He said this would prevent allegations from being "weaponised by third parties" for a political attack.

"There should be a process that takes it away from trial by politicians because some of that has political purposes and nothing really much to do with empathy for the victim," he told 2GB.

Mr Joyce also blasted former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who on Tuesday cast doubt over the woman's cause of death.

"You're not really helping the person," Mr Joyce said.

"You're also an article of a public recrimination of a person that you might have thought was an ally and then he later on found out was a political enemy, and therefore you have an axe to grind."

Opposition government accountability spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said Labor would wait until the cabinet minister made a statement about the shocking allegations before pushing for an independent inquiry. 

CHRISTIAN PORTER SPEAKS

Attorney-General Christian Porter has been identified as the cabinet minister facing historic rape allegations.

The accused denies the allegation and is addressing the media at a press conference in Perth.

It came as the family of a woman who alleged she was raped by a current federal minister in 1988 say they continue to suffer "considerable grief" after her sudden death.

There are growing calls for an inquiry after the Adelaide woman, who was 16 when she was allegedly raped in Sydney, took her own life last year.

Through a statement issued by their lawyer, the woman's family said the matter was sensitive and they did not wish to speak publicly.

"They continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss," it reads.

There are growing calls for an inquiry after the Adelaide woman, who was 16 when she was allegedly raped in Sydney, took her own life last year.

Through a statement issued by their lawyer, the woman's family said the matter was sensitive and they did not wish to speak publicly.

"They continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss," it reads.

However, her friends, including lawyers and business leaders, have joined calls for a coronial inquiry into her death.

The development follows NSW Police revealing there was "insufficient admissible evidence" to proceed with an investigation into the alleged rape of a 16-year-old girl in 1988 - before the man entered politics.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has fired a warning shot at the government, saying issues surrounding a historical rape allegation will not go away.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison received an anonymous letter last week, including an attachment outlining historical allegations of an alleged rape committed by the man before he entered politics.

The woman claimed she was raped in 1988 in the document, which was referred to the Australian Federal Police.

She died in June 2020 after taking her own life in Adelaide, having reported the matter to police in 2019.

But NSW Police, which has been the lead agency in the case since 2020, confirmed the matter closed due to insufficient evidence in a statement on Tuesday.

"For various reasons, the woman did not detail her allegations in a formal statement to NSW Police," it read.

"Following the woman's death, NSW Police came into possession of a personal document purportedly made by the woman previously.

"NSW Police have since sought legal advice in relation to these matters.

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

"As such, NSW Police Force has determined the matter is now closed."

Mr Morrison on Monday rejected calls for an independent inquiry into the allegation, saying it was a matter for the police.

'IT'S NOT GOOD ENOUGH': TURNBULL LASHES PM

A Liberal MP that "absolutely rejects" a claim he raped a teenage girl in the 1980s is said to be doing "not good".

That's according to people close to him that have spoken to The West Australian.

It comes amid mounting pressure for the MP to step aside and calls for an independent inquiry into the matter that has rocked the Parliament House.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has taken a swipe at Scott Morrison's handling of the allegation and urged the accused MP to "step forward" and clear the air. 

He said the Prime Minister could not "outsource his responsibility" for the makeup of his ministry to the police and it was now "impossible" for the minister to function in the cabinet.

"Frankly, it's not good enough for the Prime Minister to say, 'Oh, it's a matter for the police'," Mr Turnbull told ABC RN today.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says the accused MP should “front up”. Picture: AAP
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says the accused MP should “front up”. Picture: AAP

"If the minister had vigorously denied the claims to the Prime Minister, he should also deny them to the public.

"The fact is he owes it to his colleagues and the country to step out step forward and say 'I'm the person referred to' and then set out all the details."

Mr Turnbull and his wife Lucy in 2019 received a letter detailing the "very grave" alleged rape from the woman who died last year.

He said two issues needed to be addressed; her death and the rape allegations, which he added could be investigated despite the former.

"She went to the NSW Police with a lawyer. And then in 2020, just as she was about to sign the final witness statement, she takes her own life," Mr Turnbull said.

"She does so in the week (former judge) Dyson Heydon's conduct is exposed in a report done by the High Court.

"You think those would be circumstances in which she would be encouraged, in the prospect of a complaint being taken seriously.

"We don't know for sure that she took her own life. We know for sure that she's dead, and there needs to be an inquest."

Mr Turnbull said if the allegations had presented themselves while he was prime minister, he would have spoken to the police to ascertain whether the minister knew about the complaint and any investigation.

Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck said the independent authority for investigating those sorts of allegations is the police.

"Are we talking about creating some kind of new authority for investigating these types of things?" Mr Colbeck said.

"Police are an independent authority. They are set up and designed to investigate those things."

Former Labor leader Bill Shorten told Today it was important that the police investigate the claims and that the woman's story was heard.

"I think it would be good of the prime minister and sensible to reassure the Australian people that the cabinet minister will fully co-operate with the police inquiry," Mr Shorten said.

PM SAYS HE DIDN'T READ EVIDENCE

Scott Morrison received an anonymous letter last week penned by friends of the woman who told police she was raped in 1988 by a man who is now a minister in Mr Morrison's cabinet. The woman has since taken her own life.

The prime minister has conceded he didn't read the evidence sent to him.

Mr Morrison told reporters on Monday he had spoken to the minister in question and he "absolutely rejects" the allegation.

He said he had discussed the correspondence with the AFP commissioner, as well as Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet secretary and deputy secretary.

"I had a discussion with the individual, as I said, who absolutely rejects these allegations," Mr Morrison said.

"And so after having … spoken to the commissioner and to the secretary and deputy secretary at this stage, there are no matters that require attention."

When asked if he believed the minister's denial, Mr Morrison said it was a "matter for the police".

"I'm not the commissioner of police," he said.

"Allegations of criminal conduct should be dealt with by competent and authorised agencies."

When asked whether he had read the evidence submitted with the letter, Mr Morrison said he was "aware of the contents".

"I've been briefed on the contents of them. And it was appropriate, as the commissioner himself advised the parliament to refer any allegations to the properly authorities," the PM said.

"That is the way in our country under the rule of law things like this are dealt with. It is important to ensure that we uphold that. That is the way our society operates.

"Now, these are very distressing issues that have been raised, as there are other issues that have been raised in relation to other members in other cases.

"But the proper place for that to be dealt is by the authorities, which are the police.

"That's how our country operates. That systems protects all Australians."

The letter published by news.com.au on Monday states: "When news (of the incident) becomes widely known to the public … legitimate questions will be asked as to who knew what, when they knew it and what they did."

The letter referenced the allegations of former Liberal party staffer Brittany Higgins. Picture: ABC News
The letter referenced the allegations of former Liberal party staffer Brittany Higgins. Picture: ABC News

It also referenced the allegations of sexual assault made by a former Liberal staffer whose claims are now being investigated by police.

"This is occurring today in relation to Brittany Higgins," the letter states.

"In (the woman)'s case, the loss of respect for our political institutions will be exacerbated.

"There will be considerable damage to community perceptions of justice … and the parliament if it is simultaneously revealed that the senior people (like yourselves) were aware of the accusation but had done nothing.

"This is not a partisan issue … This is a difficult issue. Victims share information in confidence and sometimes do not want to pursue claims, at least initially.

"In this case, (the woman) shared her story with many and begged people to help her seek justice. To date, defamation law and political inactivity have adversely affected the ability of (her) claim to be properly addressed."

The minister in question has not been charged, nor is he under investigation.

If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

 

Originally published as Cabinet minister to identify himself amid rape allegation

 


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