A number of prominent Australian lawyers are calling for Attorney-General Christian Porter to be held to the same codes of conduct as other people in the legal industry regarding the serious rape allegations against him.
Porter has repeatedly and vehemently denied any wrongdoing and I – and PEDESTRIAN.TV – am not alleging that he is guilty of any crimes in this situation.
The calls come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison continues to declare Porter an “innocent man” and reject calls for an independent inquiry into the allegation that he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 – when he was 17 years old.
The Morrison Government – especially ScoMo and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – have repeatedly pushed the narrative that it’s “case closed” because the police are no longer investigating the matter, and we’ve already explained why it’s truly not that simple.
But now leading lawyers including Sydney barrister Tom Brennan are calling bullshit on the government’s excuse that Porter shouldn’t be held to a different standard to the general public, pointing out that he would merely be being held to code of conduct that lawyers across the nation are held to on a daily basis.
“There’s a whole range of different standards that apply to different Australians working in different jobs,” Brennan told ABC’s 7.30.
“We lawyers are subject to Professional Regulation, [which includes] where the regulator may look at things that have nothing to do with our practice of law, or if they reflect on our suitability to practice.”
Basically, lawyers are held to a code of conduct, and if they fail to meet the standards required, they can be deemed unsuitable for the job.
“It’s undoubtedly the case that the Law of Professional Regulation recognises that conduct of the kind subject to this allegation may constitute professional misconduct, in that it renders the person unsuitable to work as a professional,” Brennan added.
“So, it’s something that could possibly be investigated by the legal regulator.”
At this point, I need to stress that this is basically the same thing everyone except the Morrison government has been saying since the police closed the case. This is not a new theory.
An independent inquiry would examine all of the information and determine whether or not Porter is fit for the job. Honestly, this could be an even better outcome for Porter because if he is truly the innocent man he says he is (and I am not alleging that he isn’t) an independent inquiry would give some validity beyond him declaring his own innocence.
But now there’s some possibility of an investigation because two academics, including Melbourne Law School’s Julian Webb are lodging formal complaints against Porter.
“The proposal is that we put a request into the legal practice board of WA to consider whether Christian Porter should be considered as a fit and proper person to be a member of the legal profession,” Webb told 7.30.
“A number of us involved in this would have liked to have seen further inquiries of and by the Solicitor-General, as has been suggested.”
To put it simply, the complaint simply aims to hold Porter, Australia’s most senior law officer, to the same standard as everyone else in the field, which really isn’t that much to ask.
“But if that is not the move forward, then this seems to us to be one of the few remaining options to ensure accountability, and to ensure that the Federal Attorney-General — the Commonwealth’s most senior officer — is held to the same standards of accountability as any other lawyer in Australia,” he added.
“That is a job for the legal practice boards.”
It’s unclear if an investigation by the legal boards will go ahead, or how this could impact Porter’s career.
Porter is yet to respond to the complaint being lodged against him.