ABC’s Christian Porter defence to stay suppressed

This article contains references to sexual assault.

The ABC’s entire defence to the Christian Porter defamation case will not be publicly available, after a judge agreed 27 pages should be removed from the court file.

As part of the defamation settlement between the former attorney-general and the broadcaster, announced in June, they were to seek an order that 27 pages of the 37-page defence be permanently removed from the file.

Nine and News Corp opposed the application for the unredacted defence to be removed and stored somewhere else in the Federal Court archives.

This would deny non-parties access to them.

Justice Jayne Jagot on Friday upheld Mr Porter’s application – on the ground that it is necessary to prevent prejudice to proper administration of justice.

The 27 pages are under an interim suppression order after Mr Porter raised an objection on the basis that they contained “scandalous” and “vexatious” material and he applied to have the defence struck out.

The MP had sued the ABC over a 26 February article about a now-deceased woman’s claim he had raped her decades earlier. He denies the allegation.

The court has not signed off on the parties’ settlement and should it fall apart, the case could be revived and progress to trial.

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