CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape.

Former Attorney-General Christian Porter has dropped his defamation suit against the ABC and Four Corners journalist Louise Milligan.

Porter had claimed that back in February, the ABC outed him as the subject of a historic rape allegation after it published details of a letter written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

In the days that followed after the article was published, Porter eventually came forward and outed himself as the subject of the letter, which was written by a debating colleague from his high school days who accused him of raping her back in 1988.

With the news of his legal action now being dropped, no damages will be paid by the broadcaster. That means the ABC hasn’t agreed to pay Porter any damages in some kind of out-of-court settlement.

“The ABC stands by the importance of the article, which reported on matters of significant public interest, and the article remains online,” a spokesperson for the broadcaster said.

That initial news article has now been updated with the following note which says the ABC in no way intended to suggest that Porter was guilty:

On 26 February 2021, the ABC published an article by Louise Milligan.That article was about a letter to the Prime Minister containing allegations against a senior cabinet minister. Although he was not named, the article was about the Attorney-General Christian Porter.

The ABC did not intend to suggest that Mr Porter had committed the criminal offences alleged. The ABC did not contend that the serious accusations could be substantiated to the applicable legal standard – criminal or civil. However, both parties accept that some readers misinterpreted the article as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter. That reading, which was not intended by the ABC, is regretted.

“The ABC stands by our investigative and public interest journalism, which is always pursued in the interests of the Australian community,” the broadcaster’s statement continued.

“The ABC stands by Louise Milligan, one of Australia’s foremost and most awarded investigative journalists, and all our journalists in their independent and brave reporting on matters about which Australians have a right to be informed.”

Milligan herself also thanked everyone for their support.

“I stand by my journalism and [am] proud to work at Four Corners, and [I’m] grateful to the ABC and our brilliant legal team for supporting public interest journalism,” she said on Twitter.

More to come.


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