Two major media companies have lost in their bid to have 27 redacted pages of the ABC’s defence in the Christian Porter defamation case released to the public, with a judge ruling the document should be removed from the court’s file “to prevent prejudice to proper administration of justice”.
Although Porter ended his defamation case against the ABC in May, agreeing to keep the document secret, both Nine and News Limited had sought access to the confidential file on the basis that allowing the parties to make such an agreement would amount to “special treatment”.
Justice Jayne Jagot had also questioned the agreement, questioning whether the two parties could agree to destroy documents contained in the broadcaster’s still-redacted defence.
But in her judgement on Friday, Jagot sided with Porter’s lawyer’s who had argued against the application by the media companies. She ordered the document be removed from the court file and placed in an envelope to be held by the court registry.
The document was “not to be open or made available for inspection by the public”.
The decision, she found in her brief orders, was made “on the grounds it is necessary to prevent prejudice to the proper administration of justice”.
Porter agreed to discontinue his defamation case against the ABC over a news article that reported allegations an unnamed cabinet minister had been accused of raping a woman in the 1980s.
Porter has strenuously denied the allegations, but dropped the defamation case despite failing to secure an apology or retraction from the public broadcaster over the story.