When Attorney-General Christian Porter came out to publicly deny claims he raped a woman in 1988 – who has since died – he began with a message to her family.
Mr Porter, 50, asked them to understand why he was publicly denying their loved one’s claims of historic sexual assault which have come to light in the past week.
The accuser, an Adelaide woman whose family do not want her to be identified, took her own in life in June 2020. She was 49-years-old.
The shattered and tearful Cabinet Minister, a former Crown prosecutor, started the press conference in Perth on Thursday where he sensationally identified himself as the mystery minister accused by saying: ‘To the parents who are grieving for the loss of their adult daughter.
‘I only knew your daughter for the briefest periods at debating competitions when we were teenagers about 33 years ago. I was 17 years old and I think that she was 16 years old.
‘In losing that person, your daughter, you have suffered a terrible loss. And you did not deserve the frenzied politicisation of the circumstances of your daughter’s death in the past week.
A visibly upset Attorney-General Christian Porter strenuously denied historic rape claims at an extraordinary press conference in Perth on Thursday
An anonymous sender wrote a letter to MPs detailing the woman’s allegations (above) after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins went public with her separate claim against a staffer
‘I have thought, long and hard about the implications for you, of what I feel that I need to say today.
‘And I hope that whatever else happens, from this point, that you will understand, that in saying today, that the things that are being claimed to have happened did not happen, that I did not mean to impose anything more upon your grief.
‘But I hope that you will also understand, that because what is being alleged did not happen, I must say so publicly.’
Mr Porter went on to repeatedly say that the woman’s claims ‘just didn’t happen’. ;We didn’t have anything of that nature happen between us,’ he added.
By outing himself as the mystery cabinet minister accused of sexual assault, Mr Porter ended six days of speculation over the accused’s identity after the woman’s allegation was published in the media without naming the cabinet minister.
The accuser’s friends had sent a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Labor Senator Penny Wong and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young last week and there were suggestions the minister could be named in Parliament.
I did not mean to impose anything more upon your grief
Attorney-General Christian Porter to the dead woman’s family
Mr Porter admitted that he can’t remember every single detail of the night in question but insisted that he would not have forgotten having sex with someone.
‘The things I have read did not happen. And to suggest that they could be forgotten is ridiculous, they just never happened,’ he said.
The few details he could remember about his interactions with the woman involved two nights out – a formal dinner where a bowl of prawns was apparently served and dancing at Kings Cross – plus the alleged victim showing him how to iron.
Porter knew the woman as debaters in their teenage years. She was 16 and he was 16
NSW Police opened Strike Force Wynderra to investigate the claims but for whatever reason the woman never submitted a formal statement about it.
Police announced yesterday that detectives had closed their investigation into the case after seeking legal advice. ‘Based on the information provided to NSW Police, there is insufficient admissible evidence to proceed,’ a spokesperson said.
‘As such, NSW Police Force has determined the matter is now closed.’
But South Australian Police are still assisting that state’s Coroner with an investigation into the woman’s death last year.
In a statement, Coroner David Whittle said an investigation file regarding the woman’s death had been delivered to him by police on Monday.
‘Whilst SAPOL has provided information to me, I determined that the investigation is incomplete,’ Mr Whittle said.
Mr Whittle said an investigation continues at his direction and when it has been completed he will consider whether to hold a coronial inquest.
The woman’s friends are seeking a form of inquiry into the matter. Mr Porter said he can continue in his position in the meantime, but has taken a two week leave of absence.
As for the woman’s family, they reportedly ‘continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss’ and have asked for privacy.